Mom of child with disability ‘just wants an apology’ from United Airlines

United Airlines stock photos at Chicago O’hare Airport from October 25, 2013.
Credit: Ricky Shine/CNN

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Updated 1/2/15 at 10:25 p.m.

United Airlines apologized to the Kirschenbaum family after little Ivy’s mom brought awareness about one flight attendant’s refusal to respect Ivy’s disability.

https://twitter.com/kirsch71/status/550844902431809536

(ABC)– United Airlines in under scrutiny after a flight attendant allegedly ‘humiliated’ a woman and her daughter who has special needs. #UnitedWithIvy is the hashtag the woman wants the public to use to call out the airline.

Elit Kirschenbaum is a mother of four, with one of her kids – Ivy – being left with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy after surviving a stroke.

Kirschenbaum was traveling on a Dec. 30 flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to Newark, she told ABC News. Elit and her husband had bought a ticket for little Ivy in economic class because they know the regulations that anyone above the age of 2 must sit in their own seat.

However, with 25-pound Ivy’s Cerebral Palsy, she cannot sit up by herself.

Ivy has flown with her parents several times since she turned 2, and it has never been a problem for her to sit on her mother’s lap to accommodate for her disability. Until this time.

After a few flight attendants walked by and acknowledged the family – and the fact that Ivy was sitting on her mother’s lap – the reported veteran, but not lead, attendant told the Kirschenbaums that Ivy “needs to be in a seat,” according to Elit.

What happened next was described by Elit as a ‘circus.’

The flight attendant refused to let Ivy sit on her mom’s lap even though she can’t sit up on her own. The other flight attendants reportedly pleaded for the adamant flight attendant to let the family be, but she refused.

After delaying the flight an hour to settle the dispute, Ivy ended up laying down across her parents’ laps during take-off and landing, and sitting on her mom’s lap for the duration of the trip.

A spokeswoman for United told ABC News, “The parents, who were ticketed in first class, wanted to hold the child in their lap rather than have the child take the seat they’d purchased for her in economy. Federal safety regulations require any child over the age of two to have his or her own seat, and flight attendants are required by law to enforce that safety rule. As we did in this case, we will always try to work with customers on seating arrangements in the event of any special needs.”

“I don’t want free flights and I’m not interested in contacting a lawyer as some people have suggested I should,” Elit said. “I just want the airline to apologize.”

The airline told ABC News it has reached out to Kirschenbaum, who said she was left a message that she returned. So far, she said, there has been no apology.

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