Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Frontier Airlines apologizes for kicking quadriplegic passenger off Dallas-to-Denver flight

From Reuters:

DENVER, Colo. — U.S. regional carrier Frontier Airlines apologized to a quadriplegic passenger after one of its pilots refused to allow him to fly on a Dallas to Denver flight over the weekend because of safety concerns.

Air travelers continue to be dissatisfied with the flying experience, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which evaluates the quality of U.S. products and services.

John Morris, a 24-year-old college student from Fort Collins, Colorado, was removed from the jet after the pilot determined that a seat belt extension, normally used for large passengers, was inadequate to restrain Morris.

"We're sorry for the incident and are investigating its handling," the airline said in a statement.

"In this situation we had a well-intentioned pilot who was seeking to do the right thing to ensure the safety and compliance of all involved."

Morris could not be reached for comment, but told a local telelvision station that he felt humiliated. He was accompanied on the flight by his mother, Kathleen, who told the television station the pilot never left the cockpit to assess the situation.

"He (the pilot) was not willing to come back and talk to John," she said.

Morris, who was left a quadriplegic by a snowboarding accident five years ago, returned to Colorado on Sunday aboard a later Frontier flight.

Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in general individual pilots can exercise wide discretion on safety issues.

"The basic rule is that the pilot has complete authority over all aspects of the aircraft,' he said.

Frontier said it is investigating the incident.

"We will be taking the steps necessary to ensure clarity on the policies so that the situation is not repeated," the airline said. "Once the investigation is concluded, we will be sharing the outcome with the family involved."