Andy Goes to Court

News 4 in Jacksonville reports that Andy Gates has taken his dissatisfaction with US Airways to a new level. Mr. Gates reportedly filed a lawsuit against the air carrier for denied boarding; more specifically denied boarding because of his disability, which adds up to discrimination in the lawsuit.

I reported on the original incident in my June 9, 2007 blog entry.

Granted I don?t think US Airways acted in what I?d term the most reasonable way, but according to the facts that are publicly available I can?t see where they have violated the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

According to the ACAA, airlines can require passengers to fly with an attendant if they consider them too disabled to assist in their own emergency evacuation. I?m not sure what that particular standard is, but I know that you don?t have to be able to walk, just assist. Air France has similar standards and their test is if you can fasten your seat belt unassisted. In the US, basically it?s the call of the air crew.

I should also point out that in the US, if the air crew feels you are too disabled to fly, they can appoint a person (usually another passenger) as an “emergency” attendant; however they are not required to do so. It would have been super if US Airways would have just asked the passenger in the adjacent seat if he or she would help out Andy in case of an emergency, but that didn?t happen. So Andy didn?t fly.

And that?s why Andy is going to court.

He wants to compel US Airways to change their policy, so others won?t suffer the same fate.

Tough call, especially since the ACAA says airlines can require an attendant. Perhaps this lawsuit will result in some actual criteria for the “too disabled to assist in your own evacuation” call. Like I said, right now it?s up to the air crew and that can vary from flight to flight. One crew may feel a passenger is good to go, while the next may not. Perhaps standards are needed. Then at least folks would know if they are required to fly with an attendant. The current practice seems too arbitrary.

It will be an interesting case to follow.