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Delta apologizes after family complained autistic passenger not allowed to change seats
Delta Air Lines has apologized after a flight crew refused to allow an autistic man to change seats to sit next to a family member.
The issue first gained national prominence after Ayo Isola shared a Facebook post that has now gone viral explaining that the flight crew on a Delta flight from Detroit to Houston would not let his younger brother, who is on the autism spectrum and is "essentially nonverbal," change seats to sit next to his family members.
"He suffers from OCD, sensory overload, and many other symptoms that can make air travel particularly difficult for him. For his safety and the safety of those around him, it is important that he sit with a family member on flights," Isola wrote.
He said his brother hesitated to sit next to a stranger but was able to switch with another passenger to sit with his sister. However, a flight attendant was "upset" and "demanded" the brother return to his seat.
"We explained to her that he has special needs and that this small accommodation would be necessary, however she continued to raise hell about passengers switching seats," Isola wrote.
The pilot on the flight then ordered all the passengers off the plane. After three hours, a new crew arrived and accommodated the Isola family.
Delta said in a statement to The Hill that it is investigating the incident and that it "has reached out to the Isola family, apologized for their experience and resolved the matter."
SkyWest, the regional carrier that operated the flight, also apologized to customers on the flight "for any inconvenience following an issue regarding seat assignments during boarding."
"We are committed to ongoing training for all of our employees to ensure we provide a consistent, welcoming and positive experience for all of our passengers," the company in a statement obtained by The Washington Post.
SkyWest did not responded to a request for comment from The Hill.
Isola told the Post he does not want anyone to lose their job but wants the crew members from his flight to undergo "serious sensitivity training."
"I want to see the airlines raise their standard and assess their standards of how their employees treat people and how they are trained to work with all kinds of people, no matter what their differences may be," he said. "I just kind of want to use my current platform to make some change for the future."