Quadriplegic Pulled Off Frontier Airlines Flight
A Frontier Airlines pilot asked that a quadriplegic Colorado man be removed from a Dallas to Colorado flight on Monday because he believed it wasn't safe for him to fly.
The passenger, 24-year-old John Morris, who claimed to have flown Frontier before, was removed because the pilot felt that the seat belt extension he had been given did not adequately restrain him.
The solution to Morris' problem: Frontier put him on the next flight after that plane's pilot OK'd his seating situation.
This minor debacle comes on the heels of a number of other incidents involving disabled passengers: a woman in a wheelchair being left on an English runway, an elderly woman put on the wrong plane by Delta, and a woman with severe cancer being kicked off a flight.
Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk told KMGH TV, a Denver news station, that the federal laws surrounding seat belt extensions were ambiguous.
According to Kathleen Blank Riether, a senior attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, pilots are supposed to be "responsible for the operation and safety of a flight" and are therefore empowered to say whether or not individual passengers are allowed to fly on their plane.
"But authority is not blanket authority," Ms. Riether, who could not comment on the Morris case specifically, told Aol Travel. "Having responsibility does not mean that pilots can't violate the law."
Ms. Riether said her office periodically fields complaints from disabled passengers removed from planes who feel that pilots were not following regulations and investigates those cases.
Pilots are trained to know when removing passengers constitutes discrimination, but there is, of course, the human factor.
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