Skip to comments.Quadriplegic Passenger Forced Off Frontier Flight
Posted on 06/20/2011 12:42:46 PM PDT by Red Badger
DENVER -- A quadriplegic man from Fort Collins was forced off 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 said they were humiliated.
"When a flight attendant 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."
"It really broke my heart, because I know what John goes through on a day to day basis, not being able to do things that he certainly would like to, just wanting the opportunity to travel," Kathleen Morris said.
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 arranged 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 advice 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."
The Morris family told 7NEWS on Sunday night, when they arrived from Dallas that they are now planning legal action.
Like this guy doesn’t have enough problems!!
The ADA suit is all but automatic.
Not a pilot, he was the Captain. The Captain has the authority to take off or not. There must be other things going on here. I fly Frontier frequently and have seen handicapped people, there has never been an issue.
Another airline I won’t be flying.
The family was put on the next flight and that captain had no problems. The original captain must be an idiot...........
You throw enough seat belt extension/restraints on him plus a bunch of duct tape and he won’t go anywhere out of that seat.
The Captain of the plane is the end all and be all of authority for what is safe on his flight because he is 100% responsible for that plane, her crew, and her passengers once it backs away from the gate.
If a Captain has a doubt then the plane doesn’t fly.
Sensitivities and political correctness do not apply when it comes to some things.
The captain has the ultimate decision on issues regarding passenger safety on a plane
Period, end of sentence.
Flying isn’t a right, and you fly on a Captain’s aircraft at his discretion. It is in the Federal Air Regulations, spelled out very clearly.
This passenger shouldn’t have been carried the first time, he should have flown on an “air ambulance” flight. Those aircraft are staffed and equipped to handle passengers in this condition.
sure, he won’t go anywhere out of that seat....and then there is an emergency and passengers need to be evacuated ....
I’m giving the Captain some benefit of the doubt that HE has the authority to make the call about what he believes is safe for passengers on HIS plane
He doesn't have a leg to stand on.
>>He doesn’t have a leg to stand on.<<
Floodgates are now officially open...
They should have told the pilot they were just transporting Art.
(neither of us is going to Heaven, are we?)
I wonder why they don't have specially equipped aircraft for certain passengers who happen to be Maniacal Murdering Moslems?
since he is a quad in the even of a crash he still won’t be going anywhere since he can’t move his legs or arms. Even if he gets loose from his seat in the crash and is blocking the way out the other passengers will just kick him to the side in the panic of it all.
Once they calm down they’ll all ask where the Duct Tape boy is.
Personally, I hate to second guess an authority that is responsible for safety when they choose the conservative route. Would passengers have been angry with the captain of the Titanic if he took a longer route? Probably.
We have no idea of the sum total of the multiple considerations that the pilot may have synthesized to arrive at his conclusion, weather, experience of crew, number of passengers, flight length, other passengers needing assistance, his own crews concerns etc. We give this man the responsibility to decide rather than using a computer program because no two situations will be the same.
Im giving the Captain some benefit of the doubt that HE has the authority to make the call about what he believes is safe for passengers on HIS plane
I’ll do the same, and then I’ll inject the fact that he appears to be a heartless ash whole, without a concern for passengers, or the company he works for. He mishandled the entire situation IMHO and should be explaining his lack of tact and courtesy to management, who can then decide if they want his brand of company representation.
True. But I doubt the decision of the captain not to fly someone insulates the airline from a lawsuit.
>>You throw enough seat belt extension/restraints on him plus a bunch of duct tape and he wont go anywhere out of that seat.<<
I am trying to picture how they put that into the safety briefing....
“duct tape boy”
Oh, you is bad Mist Rhett
But seriously I suppose the airlines are to be commended for allowing near-totally disabled passengers to fly, with presumably only family members as personal aides
I suspect it was the lack of an appproved seatbelt that was the problem, and for an emergency and evacuation, this pilot thought it could be a problem
Frontier liable to get sued if they do, or if they don’t
Family is acting like Frontier put this guy in a wheelchair
Life happens, sometimes it sucks, Get over it
You are quite correct. But if I were his employer I'd have to look at his decision here in light of what all the other pilots have done for this young man in deciding as to whether he has the ability to make these kind of calls for the airline and their passenger customers. As his employer I might come to the conclusion that he doesn't have the correct temperament to be a pilot for the airline. If he blew a call like this how might he react under some real pressure.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.