Henan airport staff refuse to let child with autism board plane

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Last Tuesday afternoon Mr. Cui and his 13-year-old son, who is autistic, went to Xinzheng International Airport, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, to take a Yangtze Airlines flight to Zhuhai, Guangdong. Just as they were about to get on their plane however, staff prevented them from boarding because they considered the boy’s behaviour to be strange. The airline later claimed that staff stopped Mr. Cui and his son from boarding out of consideration for the safety of the other passengers.

Mr. Cui is from Xuchang, in Henan, but does business in Zhuhai all year around. He had flown back to Henan to visit his parents a week earlier, taking his 13-year-old son with him. But when he tried to fly back to Zhuhai on November 15, him and his son were prevented from boarding because of his son’s autism.

“My son was just speaking a little loudly at the time, but then staff refused to let us board the plane. We had been waiting at the airport for five hours and the plane was going to take off soon. But they strongly demanded that we go to the hospital to get a certificate to prove that my son is able to fly. My son is not psychiatric patient and he is not aggressive at all. I think he is being discriminated!”, Mr. Cui angrily told reporters. He also said that although his son has autism and his behaviour may be a little different from normal children, he is very obedient and can control himself well. There is thus no reason why having autism should stop him from taking a plane.

Yangtze Airlines has responded by claiming that the boy’s actions were so strange that he could have affected the other passengers on the plane. Concerned for the safety of the passengers onboard and of the entire flight, staff thus refused Mr. Cui and his son the right to board. Furthermore, according to the China’s Civil Aviation Rules for the International Transport of Passenger and Baggage, airlines have the right to refuse passengers who are in a condition that makes them unsuitable to fly.

The airline’s staff did return the cost of the plane tickets and of the airport-bus tickets to Mr.Cui. Last night, Mr. Cui told reporters that he and his son were on their way back to Xuchang, and they were considering other ways to get to Zhuhai.