The family was leaving the East Coast after attending a Journey concert. And what was supposed to be an unforgettable trip, turned out to be just that, but for all the wrong reasons.
This is home video of 16-year-old Bede Vanderhorst at a Journey concert, called up on stage and given a guitar by the band. His parents say their son is outgoing, fun and charming.
But when the family tried to fly back home to California, American Airlines said they couldn't board, because Bede has Down Syndrome. "We were not allowed on the plane because this man saw my son and made a decision."
Through a Skype interview, Joan and Robert say as they waited for their flight, they were told they couldn't board. "Ok my question is why are you singling me out and saying -- why aren't you telling them and them and them all those people who children they have to."
"This is a controlled area, you should not be recording this." Joan recorded the event on her cell phone, in what she believes is a violation of her son's civil rights. The boy was labeled a flight risk, but can be seen here quietly playing with his hat and behaving himself. "That this little boy had a seat in the first class area, and for some reason, they didn't want that. That wasn't acceptable."
American Airlines released a statement that reads in part, "the young man excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment. The pilot attempted to calm him down and acclimate him to the surroundings. His efforts were not successful. For the safety of the young man and the safety of others, American Airlines offered to book another flight for the family."
But the family says that statement is untrue and are planning to sue the airline, hoping to teach the company a lesson.
"To respect each person's dignity. Every one of us should be treated with equal dignity."
The family they've flown together dozens of times, but this time their seats were upgraded to first class. And American Airlines told the family because their seats were close to the cockpit, the boy could be a distraction if an emergency occurred.
They eventually booked a United Airlines flight and able to get home.