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Family shocked at being told to leave plane because their 8-year-old autistic son was sobbing uncontrollably • Mother doubly shocked to learn return tickets were canceled • Swiss airline: “We deeply apologize for the ordeal this family was put through.”

All the Zalmanovich family from Hod Hasharon wanted to do was fly to Switzerland to visit relatives. They never imagined that their 8-year-old son’s autism would get them kicked off their connecting flight to Geneva and bring about the cancellation of their return ticket, without warning and with no refund.

Last week, the family flew to Zurich on a Swiss International Airlines flight. Eight-year-old Yaheli had been prepared for two months for the trip, the flight went off without a hitch. But on the plane moments before the 40-minute connecting flight to Geneva was about to take off, Yaheli began crying uncontrollably and could not be calmed. Autistic children often have trouble transitioning between situations unfamiliar to them.

“He threw up on himself, but no one from the flight crew asked us if we needed anything or if they could help or what could calm the child,” Yaheli’s mother, Noa Zalmanovich, recounted.

“They were busy apologizing to the other passengers for the inconvenience and shortly thereafter informed us that we had to disembark from the plane.

“They shamefully kicked us off the flight. We were left with our luggage, shocked and humiliated. It was 10 p.m. and luckily we were able to catch the last train to Geneva. In an age when one in every 68 children is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, I would expect a slightly more understanding response from a company that calls itself a luxury airline.”


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