As 61-year-old Belgian interpreter Nicola Cantisani, who is blind, sat for two hours waiting in the Brussels-bound U.S. Airways jet on the tarmac at Philadephia airport in early April, he wondered why no one was telling passengers about the reasons for the take-off delay. When he requested a glass of water he was shooed away by the crew. When he tried to ask the captain exactly why there was a delay, Cantisani was asked to disembark.
When he refused to do so, he was dragged off the plane by three police officers, pinned into a wheelchair, held by the throat, lost the cane he uses to navigate, held at the airport for five hours without food, water, or access to any phone, moved to a 6′ x 7′ police cell at 3 a.m., questioned by a psychiatrist, and detained for 16 hours. And it was only at the end of this ordeal that the police finally believed he wasn’t faking his blindness.
Cantisani has since had nightmares about “being held hostage,” waking up in a prison cell, and generally reliving his “kidnapping.” He has no plans ever to return to Philadelphia and, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, he remains “‘beside himself’ about the flight procedures, the crew and the officers who handled him.”
But instead of receiving an apology from U.S. Airways and the Philly P.D., Cantisani is facing charges for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. It would appear that U.S. Airways still hasn’t learned a thing from Southwest and needs to retrain its crews until they understand the difference between a true “security risk” and a frustrated passenger.
(Photo: Sebastian Fritzon)