A British man who is a frequent flyer and happens to be paralyzed from the chest down was refused a seat on UK-based low-cost carrier EasyJet earlier this month despite holding a ticket because he “could not walk to the emergency exit.” (Note: see how to file a complaint below).
Paralyzed Man Has Flown ‘Hundreds of Times’
This had never happened to Martin Sabry before and the 39-year-old man typically gets on a plane every four to six weeks (not that it matters, but Sabry flies mostly for business – he is founder and senior partner of aIdeas.org, a universal design and product development company).
Sabry flies many different airlines, and as he tried to point out to cabin crew members during this incident, he’s flown EasyJet “hundreds of times” without a problem. Not this time.
Not EasyJet’s First Run-in with Disabled Passenger
However, the airline eventually apologized – put him on a plane 12 hours later – to a different destination in France. He had to complete his trip with a 150-mile taxi ride.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that just last week, a French court fined EasyJet more than $72,000 for barring disabled passengers from boarding flights in 2008 and 2009.
Disabled Flyers: Know Your Rights
In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act to ensure that disable travelers do not face discrimination in the air and it was amended in 2000 to cover foreign carriers as well as U.S. airlines.
The Department of Transportation features an online-accessible publication that is a must-read for all disabled passengers. Note that there are some exceptions to the regulations, such as the following: “The carrier may refuse transportation if the individual with a disability would endanger the health or safety of other passengers, or transporting the person would be a violation of FAA safety rules.”
How to File a Complaint
If you or someone you know believes you have received unfair treatment, the DOT also provides a handy link for filing a complaint, and you are encouraged to do so.