Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines refused to let a quadriplegic man fly. Image: Mr. T in DC/Flickr/CC BY-ND

A quadriplegic man was forced off a Frontier Airlines plane in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday. The man was trying to return home to Fort Collins, Colo., with his family. The pilot claims he felt it was unsafe for the man to fly.

Man had flown a few days prior

The man, John Morris, a 24-year-old Colorado State University student, had flown to Dallas from Denver a few days earlier to attend a family wedding. At that time he used the airline seat-belt extensions to secure his chest and legs to the seat. The extensions are meant to be used for larger passengers who need a longer-than-normal seat belt to be secured. Nobody in that flight crew questioned his safety.

‘The pilot refused to take off’

John Morris’ mother, Kathleen Morris, said, “When a flight attendant saw John strapped in, they said they would have to clear it with the captain. … The pilot refused to take off, so I said that we wouldn’t get off the plane until they figured it out.”

Airline police called in

When the Morris family refused to leave the plane, Frontier called the airport police. Three police officers boarded the plane, but would not take sides on the matter. According to Kathleen Morris, one of the officers said, “It looks like he’s safely restrained. This is not an issue for us, because he’s not posing a problem for the plane or other passengers.”

But the captain still refused to take off. Kathleen Morris claimed that the pilot said, “He cannot fly. I want him off this plane.”

Humiliated by the incident

The Morris family says they were humiliated by the incident. “I felt horrible,” john Morris said. “I just felt like I didn’t belong. I haven’t felt that bad since the accident.”

“It really broke my heart,” Kathleen Morris said, “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.”

Another passengers on the flight was quoted as saying, “It was very demoralizing and dehumanizing. It should have been dealt with at the gate, not after he was already boarded.”

Captain has ultimate authority on his flight

Peter Kowalchuk, a spokesman for Frontier, said the pilot was unsure as to whether the seat belt extensions would provide proper restraint. The captain, Kowalchuk claimed, has the ultimate authority regarding issues of passenger safety on his flight. “I’m sure that this will be reviewed, and I’m sure that there will be consideration given to how this was handled,” he said.

Family considers legal action

Frontier decided to allow Morris and his family take the next flight to Denver, and that pilot had no issue with allowing him to fly. Morris subsequently told reporters that he and his family were considering legal action against Frontier Airlines.



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