I am writing as the Mother of a teen with Down syndrome, and I have flown with her trans-Atlantic 4 times. Twice was on American Airlines. They were nice, and helpfull, but then we were not in first class. We had no real problems.
1) It is incumbent on the parent of a special-needs child to prepare their child in advance of a flight. I explained to my daughter Ricki well before the flight about passports, watching luggage, etc. I also brought plenty of stuff to keep her occupied.
2) Rather than sit first class, I recommend actually sitting in the back- near the water, near the toilets. Also this way the child can get up a bit when needed.
There is a difference in claims about whether the child was disruptive or not. I have a BIG suspicion that behavior the parents are used to, and view as non-threatening (like talking to himself)was viewed with suspicion by the staff. I also suspect that the airlines did not want a special needs child in first class. Assuming that he would be sitting by his parents, I can only say "SHAME on them!"
I'm not saying that what happened was right, because I don't know any details, but first class flyers do pay much more for their tickets and what they consider "disruptive" is much less than what a coach passenger considers "disruptive". You get what you pay for? I've heard of first class (or was it business class?) complaining about children in their section. Apparently there aren't clear standards of what kind of behavior/noise level is acceptable. I hope these cases convince airlines to making clear decisions. Flying is difficult enough as it is.
to make clear decisions
I haven't woken up yet.
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