LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- A family claims they couldn't board their cross-country flight to Los Angeles after their son was singled out and discriminated against because he has Down syndrome.
Joan and Robert Vanderhorst were flying on American Airlines from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles on Sunday with their 16-year-old son Bede.
But they say that as they waited to board the flight, they were told that they weren't allowed on the plane.
Joan pulled out her cell phone and began to videotape, documenting what she believes was a violation of her son's civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Bede -- who was labeled a flight risk -- can be seen in the video sitting at the gate, quietly playing with his hat.
In the video, you can hear Joan sobbing and her husband expressing disbelief.
"He's behaving," Robert says. "He's demonstrating he's not a problem."
"Of course he's behaving. He's never not behaved," Joan adds.
"I kept saying, 'Is this only because he has Down syndrome?'" Joan said in an interview with KTLA via Skype.
The family has flown together dozens of times. The only thing different about this flight was that they had upgraded for the first time to first class.
"This little boy had a seat in the first class area, and for some reason, they didn't want that. That wasn't acceptable," Joan said.
American Airlines claims Bede was "excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment" and that the pilot had unsuccessfully tried to calm him down.
"For the safety of the young man and the safety of others, American Airlines offered to book another flight for the family," American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller told KTLA. Read more at KTLA