>Thanks, Jen, for the lead on this one.
So, we have learned that United breaks guitars and US Airways breaks spirits. Johnnie Tuitel, a motivational speaker with CP, was flying to one of his speaking engagements when he was told by a gate agent at US Airways that he could not fly alone because he was too severely disabled, and they felt he couldn’t assist himself or others in the event of an evacuation. But if he was willing to find a companion and purchase their ticket, then they’d take him no problem. He was already in his seat, but they wheeled him off the plane and into the terminal. This is the first time this has happened to him in 20 years of flying.
Just think of what this could mean if more things like this happen. They could decide that because I’m blind, I can’t see where the exit is and get off, so can’t fly alone. They could decide that a deaf person can’t hear the safety warnings, so wouldn’t understand the instructions being given. Who knows what kind of arbitrary policies could be put in place to limit folks’ independence when it doesn’t need to be limited.
Airlines and others in the travel industry have to realize that people with disabilities do live life independently and have other ways of doing things that most people assume they can’t do.
But they picked the wrong guy to boot off the plane. The first article I saw said he was en route to do a motivational speech at a self-advocacy workshop. Thankfully for them, he says he won’t sue…but I think it’s safe to add the word yet. He’s working with them to revise their company policies, and if that fails, I would think he may just change his mind about not suing them.
Ug. Airlines just keep finding new and innovative ways to suck.