Swissair has apologized to a family for allegedly kicking their young autistic son off a domestic flight because he wouldn't stop crying.
The Zalmanovich family was furious after the flight crew reportedly told the family to leave the plane and canceled their return tickets without a refund, reports The Times of Israel.
Swissair issued the following apology:
We deeply apologize for the ordeal that this family was put through. This kind of conduct is not characteristic of this company and does not coincide with our policy; on the contrary. Swiss is involved in the community, quietly makes donations and even recently flew a group of dozens of sick children to Switzerland. We want to stress that the incident is under strict scrutiny and we will make sure that the family is compensated.
The Zalmanovich family, from Israel, headed to Zurich, Switzerland, to visit relatives. For two months, they practiced with their 8-year-old son, Yaheli, to prepare him for the flight, since he has autism. He did fine on the first leg of the trip; however, autistic children often have trouble adjusting to new environments, and he began crying on a connecting flight in Geneva and could not be consoled.
“He threw up on himself, but no one from the flight crew asked us if we needed anything or if they could help or what could calm the child,” said Yaheli’s mother, Noa Zalmanovich, according to the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom. “They were busy apologizing to the other passengers for the inconvenience and shortly thereafter informed us that we had to disembark from the plane.”
Their relatives were left waiting for the Zalmanovich family, the Daily Mail reports.
"We were left with our luggage, shocked and humiliated," Noa explained. "It was 10 p.m. and luckily we were able to catch the last train."
The airline considered the family a no-show on the return flight and originally canceled it without refund. Despite paying approximately $2,050 to fly home with Swissair, they returned with another airline.
"In an age when one in every 68 children is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, I would expect a slightly more understanding response from a company that calls itself a luxury airline," Noa said.