Heartless Pilot Publicly Humiliates Quadriplegic on Flight

Jacqueline Burt Cote

wheelchairs in airportTalk about adding insult to injury: John Morris, a 24-year-old quadriplegic passenger, was kicked off a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas over the weekend for apparent safety reasons (the pilot was concerned that a seat belt extension normally used to accommodate larger passengers would not be enough to restrain Morris). Frontier Airlines issued an apology on Monday for the incident -- they finally allowed Morris to fly home later on Sunday -- but Morris was still "humiliated" by the experience. Of course he was. To be publicly discriminated against is humiliating.

It would be one thing, maybe, if the pilot's line of reasoning made any sense. It didn't, for a number of reasons. Morris lives in Colorado, which means he flew to Dallas to begin with -- why wasn't the seat belt issue a problem on that flight? Inconsistently enforced policies inevitably cause outrage and humiliation: Why me? Why was it okay last week?

Morris had no choice but to take the pilot's decision personally. Plus, Morris's travel companion, his mother Kathleen, said that the pilot never even left the cockpit to come back and assess the situation for himself. A spokesperson for Frontier said the pilot was "well-intentioned" and that typically, pilots have control over every aspect of the aircraft. Wouldn't that imply the pilot would want to see exactly what was going on?

My heart goes out to Morris, who was left quadriplegic after a snowboarding accident five years ago. To have one's life so suddenly and tragically altered is horrible enough; to suffer additional discrimination as a result is even worse.

Frontier Airlines is said to be looking into the way the incident was handled, and they have vowed to "share the results" of their investigation with Morris and his family. If you ask me, they should be offering to share a lot more than results with Morris, like a significant amount of cash for his pain and suffering.

Do you think John Morris was treated unfairly by the pilot?


Image via arvind grover/Flickr

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