China: Around The Nation

Autistic Chinese boy barred from boarding plane because he was ‘acting weirdly’

Father criticises airline and rejects accusation his son posed danger to passengers, newspaper reports

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 2:15pm

A 13-year-old boy with autism was stopped by airline staff from boarding a flight because he was “acting weirdly” and might threaten other passengers’ safety, a newspaper reported.

The teenager’s father, whose full name was not given, said he and his son were due to fly out of Zhengzhou airport to Zhuhai in Guangdong province on Tuesday, the Dahe Daily reported.

They were stopped from boarding by employees of the Yangtze River Express airline who said his son was talking too loudly, the report said.

“My son is not a psychopath and was not acting aggressively at all,” the father said. “ All he did was talk a little bit loudly.”

The father said his son only regularly talks to family members so might act differently, but this would “not hamper him from taking planes”.

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A manager of the airline was quoted as saying the employees in charge of boarding found the boy kept walking back and forth and “screaming loudly”.

“We stopped him from boarding because we care for all the other passengers’ safety on the flight,” the manager said.

The manager cited regulations from the Chinese civil aviation industry saying airlines have the right to reject anyone from boarding if they are deemed unfit to fly because of their physical health or mental condition, the report said.

The father said it was the first time his son had been stopped from boarding as he travelled from Henan every year.

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“We waited for five hours at the airport only to get the reply that we have to get a certificate from a hospital to prove my son was eligible for boarding,” the father said.

The airline said it has covered the expense of the father and son’s air tickets.

A report released in 2014 suggested there might be more than 10 million teenagers in China with the mental condition autism.