updated 3/30/2007 11:37:41 AM ET 2007-03-30T15:37:41

A 16-year-old girl who caught a cold during a school trip to New York was kicked off her flight home because she was coughing.

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Rachel Collier was removed from the Continental Airlines plane as it was about to leave Newark, N.J., for Honolulu earlier this week. She had fallen asleep after boarding the plane with about three dozen classmates and woke up coughing and gasping for breath as it was about to take off.

"Everyone was looking at me," she said. "I couldn't talk because I lost my voice coughing so much. I was panicking."

The flight attendants gave her water, and a doctor on the flight said she would be OK to make the 10-hour flight. But the captain returned the aircraft to the gate to drop off the girl and one of her teachers.

Rachel said she started crying when the captain told her to leave. She and the teacher finally made it home the next day.

Teacher Maile Kawamura, a chaperone for the spring break trip to New York and Washington, D.C., said she was shocked. The two didn't know what to do or where to stay, she said. They finally found accommodations in New York and bought clothes and toiletries.

Continental said in a statement that Collier was coughing "uncontrollably" on the plane Tuesday and that "the captain felt he was acting in the best interest of the passenger and other passengers on the flight."

Rachel's mother, Stephanie Collier, said Continental has agreed to reimburse her daughter's expenses incurred during the extra day, including the cost of the hotel.

"I felt it was really extreme for a coughing fit," she said. "We've all had coughing fits."

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