Quadriplegic Passenger Forced Off Frontier Flight

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  1. sobore
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    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/28291011/detail.html

    A quadriplegic man from Fort Collins was forced of a Frontier Airlines plane because a pilot said it wasn't safe for him to fly.
    His mother, Kathleen Morris, said there was no problem two days earlier when her son flew Frontier from Denver International Airport to Dallas to attend a family wedding.

    But Sunday afternoon when he boarded in Dallas to come home, John Morris and his family tell 7NEWS, they were humiliated.

    "When a flight attended saw John strapped in, they said they would have to clear it with the captain," said Kathleen Morris.
    She said that her son is a quadriplegic with limited upper body control.

    Morris has flown Frontier Airlines in the past, using an airline seat-belt extension to secure his chest and legs to the seat. The extension is normally used by larger passengers who need a longer seat belt to secure their waist.

    "But this time, the pilot refused to take off," she said. "So, I said that we wouldn't get off the plane until they figured it out."
    Fellow passenger Denny Cannon was seated nearby and overheard that Frontier couldn't use its equipment for medical purposes.

    So, he and other upset passengers, offered to help.

    "Me and other passengers said, 'Well, sure, use our belts and we'll somehow restrain him and then you won't be using Frontier products," Cannon recalled.

    But in the end, to the dismay of other passengers, Frontier called airport police. Three police officers boarded the plane.

    The officers told the pilot this was not a law enforcement matter.

    "It looks like he's safely restrained," an officer said, according to Kathleen Morris. "This is not an issue for us, because he's not posing a problem for the plane or other passengers."

    The captain again refused to take off with Morris onboard.

    "He cannot fly. I want him off this plane," the pilot said, according to Kathleen Morris.

    "It was humiliating," the mother said. "The officers kept apologizing to me and to John and kept saying, 'This is wrong.'"

    A snowboarding accident five years ago left John Morris paralyzed.
    The 24-year-old Colorado State University student said he couldn't believe how he was treated on the plane, and he was sorry for the delay the incident caused.

    "I felt horrible," he said. "I just felt like I didn't belong. I haven't felt that bad since the accident."
    Other passengers wondered why Frontier didn't have policies established for accommodating people with disabilities.

    "It was very demoralizing and dehumanizing. It should have been dealt with at the gate, not after he was already boarded," said one passenger.
    Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk said the pilot was concerned for the safety of Morris and uncertain whether the seat-belt extension could be used to restrain his legs and torso.
    The captain has the ultimate decision on issues regarding passenger safety on a plane, he said.

    However, Frontier arrange for the Morris family to take the next flight, and the pilot on that plane had no issues with transporting the disabled man.
    "So, one pilot thought that it would not be safe. And another pilot … apparently thought it would not be a threat to anybody's safety," Kowalchuk said.

    He said that Federal Aviation Administration and Frontier regulations are unclear on whether the seat-belt extension can be used to restrain a disabled passenger. "It will require clarity moving forward," he added.
    When a passenger has to leave a flight, an incident report is issued, Kowalchuck said.
    "I'm sure that this (incident report) will be reviewed, and I'm sure that there will be consideration given to how this was handled," the spokesman said.

    Steve Cowell, an aviation safety consultant, told 7NEWS the pilot should have called airline managers for advise on handling the issue.
    "It was completely inappropriate of this captain to escalate ... the situation to the level that he did by calling the police," Cowell said. "It really tells me that this captain did not know how to utilize all the resources available to him."
     

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