Friendly Skies: United Crews Supports Boy With Autism and His Family During Flight
An entire flight recently rallied to support a small passenger who felt overwhelmed on a plane.
Four-year-old Braysen usually loves flying. But on a recent flight, the young boy struggled to stay in his seat during takeoff on United Airlines Flight 2210, headed from San Diego to Houston. He fought to remove his seat belt so he could sit on the floor, where the vibrations of the plane were soothing for his overstimulated senses.
When a flight attendant came up to check on the family, Braysen's mother told her that, "The boy has autism. We're trying; give us a minute," Lori Gabriel from Cypress, Texas, later recounted on Facebook. The crew member returned shortly thereafter with two other flight attendants, who all asked Gabriel how they could help her reassure Braysen before "springing into action," she said.The crew allowed Braysen to sit in his mother's lap for takeoff, then sit or lie on the floor next to the galley once the seat belt sign was turned off. "When he's overstimulated, the vibration makes him feel better," Gabriel said.As he lay on the floor in the aisle, Braysen inadvertently kicked a couple of passengers several times during the three-hour flight. One was an off-duty United flight attendant, who told Gabriel that it wasn't a problem. The other was a man in first class, who introduced himself to Braysen and gave him high fives. "Braysen seemed happy there, so we didn't want to move him," Gabriel explained, saying that she apologized to the passenger, who said he didn't mind at all."Everybody in first class was kind to him, asking his name, showing him pictures on their phones, letting him sit whenever he wanted," Gabriel said. "The flight attendants kept asking if we needed anything, making sure everybody was taken care of."As the family disembarked, the off-duty flight attendant across the aisle from them handed Braysen's mother a handwritten note and gave her a hug. Gabriel included a photo of the note in her Facebook post, which read, "You and your family are loved and supported. Do not ever let anyone make you feel as though you are an inconvenience or a burden. He is a blessing. God bless your patience, your love, your support and your strength. Continue to be a super woman."United Airlines also commented on Gabriel's Facebook post, saying, "It sure sounds like Braysen and your family had a great flight. We are happy that our crew was able to make it an enjoyable experience. We are overjoyed to see that we have such loving and supportive passengers on board as well! We look forward to seeing Braysen again soon!""I'm just overwhelmed from all this kindness," Gabriel said about the unexpected grace the family received from strangers. "It makes me want to cry. For the first time, people have been very understanding and helpful about Braysen's autism. It's very promising, we don't have to care about what other people think because there are people who are caring, who understand. It gives me a lot of hope for the future.""Shout-out to the flight attendants Joseph Nation, Heather Bursid and Rhonda," Gabriel said. "They couldn't have done a better job."