Distraught About Disabled Passenger

January 12, 2010

in Odds & Ends Stories

I flew via USA 3000 from Fort Myers, FL to Detroit, MI. This by far was my worst experience flying. It was a full flight, and my wife and I were in an the outer two seats with the aisle seat vacant. Of course I had to be the one next to the empty seat. I am a large person, 6’4″ and flying coach I am cramped at best.

What sits next to me became an abomination. First, let me tell you, I am not trying to impugn or degrade the respect of mentally ill people, but this girl who sat next to me had Down’s syndrome, and was easily 300 lbs. Her parents were across the aisle from her.

Anyways here I am ankle to cankle, shoulder to shoulder with this girl who is constantly smiling at me. I thought to myself, this is going to be a long flight, but I can hack the next three hours. That was not to be.

The next thing I notice is that this girl has spittle building up on her lower lip. As it built, every once in a while, there would be a drop of drool fall from the center of her lower lip and fall to her girth upon her chest. Oh sh*t! I hope I do not get hit with that stuff… I thought.

As soon as the flight was climbing, she pulled out a pocket computer game of “Deal, No Deal” and preceded to play for the entire flight. This usually would be no problem, but her reactions to the game were. Whenever she would make a good decision by opening a smaller dollar valued case, she would get excited and bounce in her chair like a child would. Of course, with her size she just rubbed up and down my whole side grunting with pleasure. However, when she selected a case she didn’t want like something that was worth a great deal more, she would stick her tongue out, lock her lips around her tongue, and blow. This sent spit shooting everywhere in front of her and yes, to the side of her, all over me. Needless to say, during a game she must have done this a good dozen times. I was horrified.

What’s worse than all this was that her parents, from across the aisle, encouraged her on her selections, either cooing her on her good selections, or feeling sad for her on her bad selections. This just made her more animated and reactive. I started to fume…

I was getting very agitated, and wanted to say something, but my wife, who is a social worker and works with these people, would not allow me to say anything to her parents, or to the flight attendant. She would just remind me this girl has problems, and be happy that you do not. I remind her she is not the one who is getting washed with Down syndrome spit every few minutes.

After about a half hour of this I went to the restroom, and used the time to inform a flight attendant. I informed her what was happening, and asked that she say something to the parents to get her under control. She never did. I think that maybe she was afraid of retribution from her employer or worse yet, a frivolous lawsuit.

I was stuck with this for my entire flight. However, there was one last parting shot at my comfort, or should I say discomfort…

When the flight came to a stop on the ground, she being in the aisle seat,  jettisoned up out of her chair to get her overhead luggage and caught herself by the leg under the arm rest. She proceeded to fall back, towards me.

Of course, my body was turned towards her and all I saw was a 36″x36″ Down’s syndrome butt fall straight for my face! This behemoth was falling right on me! Thank God she caught herself before that happened. I was within 6″ of getting a face full of her butt.

I still wanted to say something to her parents, suggesting that maybe they should have switched a seat with her so that their daughter could be next to one of them on the other side of the aisle, but then I thought to myself, this is probably one of the only breaks they get from her in their entire life.

In the end I felt for her and her parents, but I will never forget nor will probably ever encounter a worse flight in my life.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Demotage January 12, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I feel sorry for you and I don't. The poor girl couldn't help her behavior. I know it was uncomfortable for you, but a little compassion is in order. She and her parents didn't choose this. I think the best you can do on the situation is to grin and bear it. Better yet, why not think about what you could do to make both of your flights better. Sure, it's not your responsibility, but sometimes the best moments in life come from rising above your petty annoiances and helping a fellow human being less fortunate than you.


Jane January 13, 2010 at 5:40 am

Her parents could've let her sit with one of them and the other next to him. So I'd say they did have a choice in the matter and didn't want to deal with her spittle so she sat next to OP.


Timmay January 13, 2010 at 1:47 am

Why don't you just go f#!*k yourself you evil person.


Mick January 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Timmay, I think you need a comma between "yourself" and "you".


Timmay January 14, 2010 at 1:27 am


Why don't you go f%$K yourself, you pole smoker.

How was that? Better?


Timmay January 16, 2010 at 2:03 am

That's what I thought.


Narm February 1, 2010 at 8:21 am



TK January 13, 2010 at 2:01 am

Wow, what compassion you have. Why would you post this story? You just told the entire Internet what an unfeeling, ignorant a@@hole you are. Way to go dude. Crawl back under your rock.


A&P Mechanic January 13, 2010 at 2:23 am

I agree with Tmmay on this. Are you such an attention whore that you had to write this and complain to the world how unfairly you were treated?



AmyLynn January 13, 2010 at 3:39 am

You are an ass. Get over yourself.


Jane January 13, 2010 at 5:38 am

I think it's an understandable reaction to have, to sit next to a child who is overweight as in this case. Had she not been with Down Syndrome, the rest of you commenters would be supporting the OP about telling the flight attendant.

I actually thought it was rather stupid and inconsiderate on the parents' part to have their daughter sit next to someone with no experience being around people with Down Syndrome–I agree with the OP that she should have been sitting next to one of her parents, so she isn't a disturbance to other passengers because in all honesty (regardless of disability or not) no one wants to sit next to a stranger producing bodily liquids who is also rubbing against him.


ps January 13, 2010 at 6:55 am

It appears that a few commenters here have Tourette syndrome. The poster obviously lacks tact but where were the parents? Apparently across the aisle. That says something in itself. If the "offending" passenger was merely obese, as Jane said, people would be piling on about 2 fares and the usual stuff. Outside of posting it rudely and obnoxiously, the poster has a legit gripe. The vile invective with minor profanities from a few posters is also par for the course.


Jim January 13, 2010 at 9:07 am

I do not fault the person for posting this. He was fairly kind in his remarks about the one with down's syndrome.

In no way is this her fault. She actually sounds rather well adjusted and well behaved for someone with such challenges.

However, the parents are the ones at fault in this situation. This is their child, whom they chose to fly with. It is their responsibility to provide for her, care for her, etc… It seems that she is fairly able to fly with little problems, so not an issue bringing her on the plane. However, it seems that she could be annyoing to others trying to rest in preparation for a business meeting, etc… So, the parents should sit by her….interact with her….and encourage her to be as respectable and quiet to others as possible.

When you choose to have children, you choose to have certain responsibilities. The parents should not expect the world to accomodate their choices in life.


Linda January 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I disagree that the OP was "fairly kind". His use of the phrases "Down syndrome spit" and "Down’s syndrome butt" are rude and unnecessary. Down Syndrome is not contagious, and the point could have been made without such kinds of insults.


Mick January 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I totally agree with Jim – the world should not have to put up with anti-social behavior, simply because of another's disability. I work in a large retail store and a young man with some sort of mental condition is brought in every couple of weeks by his carer to shop. Problem is that this guy has a habit of SCREAMING every few seconds, punching/mandhandling his carer at the checkout (who does little to stop the behavior, and nothing to stop the SCREAMING) and other stuff that does nothing but frighten – and then annoy – both other customers and staff. Frankly, it gived me the total s*its, especially when the feelings – and eardrums – of people around him are assaulted, and zilch is done to restrain him.

Poster – I hear what you're saying about your flight experience and I can sympathise.


chris January 14, 2010 at 4:16 am

I call 'fake' on this post. It could be true, but something about it just seems fake. It's just too perfectly contrived, right down to the wife who just happens to work with the disabled.


chris January 14, 2010 at 4:17 am

LINDA – is your picture a miniature pig sitting on someones shoulder?


luxpink January 15, 2010 at 12:09 am

it would have helped if you had hit REPLY to her comment, otherwise she will never see your question. and yes, it is a mini-pig and i am just as jealous.

OP, i feel for you. these people calling you an ass are just doing it to be politically correct. i would have died if i had to sit next to that disgusting mess as well.


Jody January 14, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I agree the parents should have been sitting next to this girl. BUT the original poster needs a huge shot of compassion. I’m glad I wasn’t the one sitting next to him and hope I never will be.


nyuu January 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm

So you’d honestly rather sit next to the girl?

Seriously, if people are honest, they’d admit they won’t want to sit with her either. 😛

Compassion: What people give as long as they don’t have to deal with the inconveniences themselves.


Lon January 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

The poster is a jerk. And his wife should divorce his ass for lack of compassion.


John January 16, 2010 at 2:26 am

Was there something preventing the author of the note in issue from offering to exchange seats with his seat mate's parents? By showing a little compassion, he could have helped the parents and saved himself some inconvenience.


cs January 17, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I support the OP on this. He WAS very kind in his choice of wording in describing a bad situation. The parents really are at fault for not having her sit next to one of them and the other sit next to the OP (it's what we do with my autistic brother).


Max January 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I do agree with OP, but I think a bit more compassion is in order. I know what OP is saying, because even being stuck on the routine 2 and 1/2 hour flight to Florida next to her would have been awkward, annoying, and needless to say disgusting. I do not blame the girl in any way whatsoever. I have plenty times encountered people with mental problems and they are usually extremely kind and feeling, but unable to express it in a way one might consider, "normal." I blame the parents; first of all for feeding their disabled daughter to the point of obesity, and secondly plaguing whatever poor stranger was bound to sit next to her on the flight with her reactions to any entertainment.


Increasedosologist February 4, 2010 at 11:01 am

It boggles my mind that so many grown up and for the most part intelligent people fail to appreciate the difference. Bad behavior, developmental disabilities and poor hygene, as far as other pax are concerned, is an incovenience. Punching, kicking, or spitting on ANOTHER PERSON is an ASSAULT. It would definetely be an incovenience and an accident if that girl spat on him. It is an assault by the girl's parents if the man points out to them that their daughter is spitting on him and they do not even make show of effort to remedy the situation. In every state there is a law that parents are responsible for all misdeeds of children in their care, whether the children are minor or disabled adults. I would say based on the situation it was definetly a phone camera (full motion video) and small claims court time. Trial by judge – no juries. File for maximum amount allowable in a small claims court. If you really want to feel like mother Theresa, then after you win the judgement tell the parents to keep the money, and that you just wanted to make them aware that people have a right not to be spat on by anybody for any reason. And Mick you would likely to have legal troubles if you banned the disabled young man from the store. But you would be in a much stronger position if you ban his carer from the store on the grounds that his negligence to properly supervise the person in his care results in frightened customers and employees.


Cristi January 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I just came across this story and am truly disgusted with this person. You apparently have never been around any people with disabilites and have a very low tolerance for anyone who is not "perfect" apparently like you. The way you refer to people with Down Syndrome is disgusting. It is like you think they have a disease. You are the kind of person I can only wish would have a truly tragic experience in their life to make them have more compassion for people. FYI I have a son with Down Syndrome and people with disabilites are amazing.


Georgiaonmymind June 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Why didn't his wife change places with him since she is used to dealing with mentally challenged people. She must have realized how uncomfortable he would be.


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