A man with cerebral palsy had recently boarded a U.S. Airways flight in West Palm Beach, FL, when he was approached by the plane’s flight crew and told he needed to vacate the aircraft. The reason? He is too disabled to fly.
The 47-year-old man is a professional motivational speaker who has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and was en route to Kansas City when the incident occurred.
“Their argument was if something were to happen, I can’t help myself or somebody else, which is an assumption first of all. Second of all, the people that made the decision are not medical doctors,” he told CNN. “They basically told me I was too disabled to fly and I had to fly with a companion and I had to purchase that companion’s ticket.”
After being booted from the plane, he booked a ticket on a Delta flight, where he experienced no hassle whatsoever, he says.
The passenger, who says he doesn’t intend to sue, claims it wasn’t until three weeks after being removed from the U.S. Airways jet — and after the media began paying attention — the someone from the airline contacted him. They offered to reimburse him for the flight; he declined.
The airline has since spoken with him and asked if he could be used as a “sounding board” on this topic. The passenger says he’s not averse to that idea.
“They do want to right this wrong and they do want to work with me,” he said. “And I am hopeful — don’t want to sound cynical but it is a big company — I am hopeful we can come up with a solution that won’t only work for the two of us but will make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone with a disability in the future.”