Johnnie Tuitel, a motivational speaker who uses a wheelchair, says he was forced to leave a recent US Airways flight before takeoff because flight personnel had decided that he was “too disabled to fly.”
Tuitel, who has cerebral palsy, said the incident occurred last month while he was waiting for his flight to take off from Palm Beach, headed for a speaking engagement in Kansas City, Mo. He said he was told that he could not stay on the flight unless he had an attendant with him. Tuitel was removed from the flight and missed his engagement.
US Airways said the decision to deplane Tuitel was because of safety concerns.
:”We just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly that day, unassisted,” said spokesman Todd Lehmacher. “Our number-one priority, of course, is safety. We transport 80 million passengers a year. The crew just felt it wasn’t safe for him to fly.”
… “I just think that my civil rights were violated, and that I should have the same rights to fly as any other citizen so that I can do business,” Tuitel said in a press release. “All I want to do as speaker is to make a living and take care of my family.”
Being the reluctant flier that I am, and having visited Mr. Tuitel’s website and watched his videos, I would sit next to him on any flight. Most emergencies require strength of character, courage, tenacity and a sense of humor. It’s clear US Airways kicked off the most able of its passengers that day.