A formal complaint has been filed against Delta Air Lines after one passenger divulged that crew members refused to allow his brother with autism to sit near a family member, resulting to a three-hour delay Friday.

Complainant Ayo Isola took to his Facebook page and detailed the incident that involved the crew of SkyWest Flight 3596 where they refused to have his 21-year-old brother with autism spectrum disorder to sit near a family member.

“For his safety and the safety of those around him, it is important that he sit with a family member on flights,” Isola said, while adding that aside from being “essentially nonverbal, his brother, Tayo, also suffers from OCD, sensory overload and several other symptoms, making “air travel particularly difficult for him.”

plane on air
Representational image of an aircraft. Pixabay

While all of them – Isola, his mother, sister and brother – got out of the gate together, they noticed that their seats were all separated. Fortunately, a woman who was sitting one row away volunteered to change seats so that his brother could sit next to his sister for the duration of the flight.

All the while, Isola thought their problem was solved.

He was wrong.

He continue by saying that a flight attendant “became very upset” and demanded his brother to return to his original seat. Isola and his family explained to the crew about his brother's situation and that “this small accommodation would be necessary.”

Instead of empathizing to the situation, the flight attendant “continued to raise hell,” causing the flight to be delayed. Twenty minutes later, the flight attendant brought his supervisor. For a while, the tension eased as the supervisor explained to the attendant that cases like Isola's “happens often on flights” and took the side of the family.

Along with the supervisor, other passengers defended Isola's family and told the flight attendant that she was being discrimatory, said the 23-year old Isola.

With the flight already delayed for nearly an hour, Isola recalled that the attendant decided to confer with the pilot and requested for his family, as well as the woman who offered to change seats, “to be booted from the flight.”

“The attendant went straight to the pilot to complain that we are causing a safety hazard,” said Isola on his post.

This happened before the pilot instructed everyone aboard the plane to exit the aircraft.

The airline management, as well as airport security, intervened and told the pilot that there was no safety issue and that the plane should fly.

The pilot and his crew, however, refused to cooperate and exited the terminal. According to Isola, they refused to fly the plane “because they were told to make a minor accommodation for a passenger with special needs.

All 74 passengers had to exit the aircraft and waited for three hours for a new crew to board the plane. Fortunately, everything went smoothly after the transition.

A source who also reported on the issue quoted Isola when he said that “it's not right to treat people with special needs as if they are not worth your time or effort.”

His statement also echoed his thoughts that what happened to him and his family highlight the “ignorance, bigotry and blantant discrimination that unfortunately exists in people today.”

A Delta spokeswoman extended the company's apologies to the customers of flight 3596.