Southwest Airlines denies terminally-ill N.H. boy special car seat

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December 25, 2011, 9:32 pm
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(NECN: Samantha Liebman) – A New Hampshire family had trouble on a Southwest Airlines flight.

A Bedford couple says Southwest Airlines endangered their terminally ill son when they forced him from his protective seat on their flight from Florida.

Eight-year-old Nicholas Dainiak has batten disease, a rare degenerative disorder.

"We've gone from a normal, healthy child to one that can't walk, he's lost most of his ability to talk,” said his father Chris Dainiak. “He needs full support 24-hours a day, constant evaluation of seizures."

But he can still hear and remember his favorite Disney films, so the Dainiak’s took Nicholas and his younger brother to Disney World.

"So we were really excited to take him down there. We don't know how many times we'll be able to go again,” said Chris. “This may have been the last time, we just don't know."

Because of his condition, he needs to travel in a special car seat.

"We picked out a seat that was one of the brand makers we've always used, Brittex, and they've always been allowed on planes,” said Chris.

It was fine on the way down, but on their Southwest flight back to Manchester, flight attendants told them they couldn't use it.

"I said, but he has to ride in this seat. There's no other alternative,” said his mother Heather Dainiak. “He can't sit up. He's kind of like a baby."

Southwest has since apologized to the Dainiaks and issued the following statement:
"We are working directly with the family after sincerely apologizing and issuing a full refund for their less than positive travel experience.  We certainly will take away any potential learnings from this experience in our constant evaluation of how to provide the best possible customer service, which is second only to the safety of every passenger. Southwest safely transports every year tens of thousands of Customers with Disabilities with policies adhering to FAA-mandated regulations while also having a heart, for which we are well known."

Tags: Bedford, car seat, Southwest Airlines, Disney World , Special Needs, Samantha Liebman, Nicholas Dainiak, Heather, Chris, batten disease
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