A man named Ayo Isola was traveling from Detroit back home to Houston with his mother, sister and brother, Tayo.
His 21-year-old brother Tayo has nonverbal autism and often experiences sensory overload.
They asked a woman to trade seats so Tayo could sit with a family member as he is nonverbal and sitting next to his family member would be helpful for him.
“He suffers from OCD, sensory overload, and many other symptoms that can make air travel particularly difficult for him,” Ayo Isola, Isola explained on Facebook. “For his safety and the safety of those around him, it is important that he sit with a family member on flights.
I am going to share this story about why I filed a formal complaint against Delta Air Lines, and additionally, am…
“A nearby passenger offered to give up her seat. She was super helpful,”
“When my brother sat in the seat, she [the flight attendant] told my brother to move. My family had to step in and tell her why he can’t reply. She was unresponsive to that, very adamant that he needed to get up.”
“The flight attendant became upset and demanded my brother move back to his original seat,” Isola continued. “We explained to her that he has special needs and that this small accommodation would be necessary, however, she continued to raise he** about passengers switching seats.”
Pilot and other crew members decided to empty the plane and asked to de-board the plane and return to the gate.
“I’m posting this story to highlight the ignorance, bigotry, and blatant discrimination that unfortunately exists in people today,” Isola wrote.
“It is not right to treat people with special needs as if they are unworthy of your time or effort.Especially when a simple accommodation or a tiny bit of compassion can be the difference between them being successful or unsuccessful in life.
The flight was delayed as it was scheduled to depart at 5.30pm but did not leave until 8.30pm.
“Delta apologizes to customers on flight 3596, operated by Delta Connection partner SkyWest, for any inconvenience following an on-board event,” a Delta Airlines media representative told the Guardian. “We are currently reviewing the details and have reached out to better understand what happened.”
“I’m not concerned with money at this point. I just want to ensure this never happens again and get some policy change.”
Isola’s post went viral and both Delta and SkyWest issued a statement saying they are investigating the incident.
“We are investigating reports regarding SkyWest flight 3596, operating as Delta Connection from Detroit to Houston, Texas, which experienced a delay boarding as a result of an issue regarding customer seat assignments,” SkyWest said, according to WXYZ. “We are committed to providing exceptional on-board service to all of our customers and are working with our partner Delta to reach out to the customers.”
According to WXYZ, Isola said: “If that’s the way they are going to treat people, then they don’t need to be flying planes,”
“I think they should do some sort of mandatory sensitivity training. They were discriminatory and offensive. The fact that they refused to fly us because my brother has a disability I was very frustrated.”