Can Airlines Deny Me Passage Just Because I’m Disabled?

airplane_landing_199029I’m getting a lot of questions this week in regards to Mark Smith’s recent incident with American Airlines. Smith is a power-wheelchair-user who was on his way home from Abilities Expo in Southern California, when a gaggle of American Airlines employees boarded the aircraft and informed him that they needed to remove him from the airplane because of “captain’s orders”. So he was transferred to an aisle chair, and taken back to the jet bridge, and was later transported on another American Airlines flight. Continue reading

Cruisers Beware – Access Varies From Line to Line

adventure-of-the-seas-1By now, you’ve probably heard the story of wheelchair-user Ann Fisher, who was denied passage from Liverpool on the Fred Olsen liner Boudicca. The problem is, Liverpool doesn’t have any overhead boarding bridges or sloped gangways, so passengers have to board vessels by climbing up stepped gangways. And if they can’t do this with “minimal assistance” they won’t be allowed to cruise. Continue reading

Don’t Get Left at the Gate!

Learn the law, so you don’t get left at the gate!

Sometimes knowing the finer points of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) can make the difference between having a trouble-free flight, and literally being left at the gate. Such was the case for Jerremy Lorch, a wheelchair-user who was recently denied boarding on an Air Canada flight to Toronto from the Greater Rochester International Airport. Continue reading

Cancer Patient Denied Boarding — Could it Happen to You?

Elizabeth Sedway was having a nice family vacation in Hawaii — that is until she attempted to board her Alaska Airlines flight home to California.

You see, Sedway has multiple myeloma, and like many other people who have compromised immune systems, she wears a surgical mask in crowded public places, like airports. She also opted to preboard the flight, and according to her recollection of the incident, she told the gate agent that she felt “weak”. Both of these actions are perfectly normal under the circumstances, but they also set off a chain of events that eventually got the Sedway family unceremoniously booted from their flight. Continue reading

A Denied Boarding with a Tragic Twist

There’s certainly no shortage of denied airline boardings involving wheelchair-users who travel unaccompanied. And for the most part these incidents usually involve passengers who are unable to evacuate the airplane on their own, in the event of an emergency.

But here’s a new twist on it all. What if the airlines are unable to physically accommodate a disabled passenger? And what if this happens, not once, not twice, but three times? And what if the passenger dies as a result of that denied boarding? Well, that’s exactly what happened to Vilma Soltesz last month; and now attorney Holly Ostrov Ronai is seeking $6 million in damages from the airlines, claiming that they violated the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Continue reading

Troubling Royal Air Maroc Incident

I hear a lot of stories about air travel gone wrong, and at this point it’s kind of hard to throw something new my way. Kind of hard, but not impossible; as evidenced by the following saga of Abdelkader Sifer and his daughter Siham on a recent Royal Air Maroc flight. Continue reading

FAA Weighs in on Seatbelt Extensions for Torso Support

Although the blogosphere is all atwitter about the recent denied boarding of a quadriplegic passenger who used seatbelt extensions to stabilize his chest and legs, nobody has really addressed the legality of it all. That’s because there’s really nothing in the Air Carrier Access Act that specifically allows or prohibits this type of adaptation. Not just seatbelt extensions, but any kind of torso support. Continue reading