Robert Vanderhorst was with his wife and teenage son. They were flying from Newark to Los Angeles when Robert decided to do something nice for his developmentally disabled boy.
"I paid for that ticket. $275 extra for him to experience for the first time first class, and what we experienced there was last class."
Right as Robert and his family were about to board the plane they were stopped by people from American Airlines. The pilot decided their son, Bede, was a safety risk.
"I think it's solely because of who he is, a kid with Down syndrome, a teenager with Down syndrome, and then the first class thing, y'know, oh this kid doesn't belong in first class, what if he causes a disturbance for the other passengers, do you think the pilot cared what disturbance he or other kids make in the coach section?"
And the coach section is where the Vanderhorst's ended up. This time it was a United flight, that left two hours later. The Vanderhorst's were put in the back row of the plane, all by themselves.
"We realized the two rows in front of us and the two rows to the side of us are empty. They created a buffer around us with no other passengers. They put us in the back of the bus and didn't let anyone sit near us."
Robert Vanderhorst is a lawyer, and he won't be forgetting this experience anytime soon. "You feel helpless, and then after that, your parenting kicks in, and my advocacy thing kicks in, and I want to rip them a new orifice."
He also made a promise to his son. "From now on, I vow, that my son will only fly first class."
Representatives for American Airlines say Bede was acting erratically prior to the flight. They say the pilot makes the ultimate decision on who can board a plane based on safety.