Family of Teen With Down Syndrome Kicked off Alaska Flight After He Vomited

Apr 6, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A woman says that Alaska Airlines kicked her family off a flight to Seattle (SEA) on Monday after her teenage brother with Down syndrome vomited a small amount.

Meaghan Hess, a third-year law student and staffer for the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, was not traveling with her family from St. Louis (STL) to Seattle (SEA) on Alaska Flight 779 on Monday. However, in a written statement Hess says that her brother had just boarded the flight when flight attendants asked him and his parents to deplane.

“After boarding the flight, Patrick threw up a little and the airline workers kicked my family off the flight,” Hess said in the statement.

Alaska then rebooked the family on a flight the following morning, although it did not offer to pay for accommodations overnight. Hess said that an Alaska representative told her father that the family should have been charged for the reaccommodation on the flight the following day, but the airline was instead extending the comped flight as a courtesy.

Hess said that the airline left them “stranded at the airport for nearly eleven hours knowing that my family had nowhere to go for the night. Instead, all they did was hand my parents a black garbage bag, saying that my brother could just throw up in that.”

On the flight the following day, the three travelers were upgraded first class, where flight attendants reportedly gave the teenager “a black trash bag” for their trip home to Washington.

Hess told NBC News that in a direct message on Twitter, a representative from Alaska said: “I’m truly sorry for your family’s experience. Safety of all passengers is our number one priority. I am glad to see that we re-booked them at no fee in the morning. I apologize that we cannot provide hotels in these situations.”

A spokeswoman from Alaska later said that the teenager posed a potential health threat. “The family was not able to depart on their original flight because the family’s child was visibly ill,” she said. “Out of an abundance of caution the agent determined that the child was not fit to fly. In the case of a medical-related situation, it is safer for guests to be treated on the ground, as our crew are not trained medical professionals.”

The airline also said that it’s looking into how the incident was handled and has reached out to the family to better understand what happened.

Hess said she’s not satisfied with Alaska’s response, calling the treatment “disability discrimination.”

“I can’t help but think if a non-disabled child that threw up, would the airline have kicked that family off the flight,” she said.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.