Passenger Accuses Air France Of Treating Her Unfairly Because She
Has No Limbs
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 20, 2004
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND--Adele Price is taking action against an airline that she says discriminated against her because she has no arms or legs.
She hopes her action will bring about world-wide standards on how passengers with disabilities are treated on airlines.
Price, 42, who is from Mansfield, England, was born without limbs because her mother took thalidomide, a drug designed to treat morning sickness, during pregnancy.
Price claims that in August 2000 she prepared to board a flight from Manchester Airport to New York on Air France, when an airline gate employee told her, "one head, one bottom and a torso cannot possibly fly on its own."
"Thalidomiders are banned, accept it - you're just a torso," the employee reportedly told her.
Price said that she has traveled many times without assistance. The airline did allow her onto another flight, she said, but only after she hired someone to fly with her, and paid for a second ticket -- at three times the normal rate.
In a press conference last Friday, Price told reporters that an Air France agent in England also informed her she would need clearance from an American doctor to return home. When she provided that clearance to an airline agent in New York, she was asked for additional medical clearance. This forced her to stay in the U.S. an extra five days, and to cancel all the business she had planned for the trip.
Price said she eventually purchased a ticket on British Airways, which let her travel alone.
The British citizen has borrowed $10,000 to hire an attorney to sue Air France over the extra costs, and for emotional and psychological damage. She said she chose to file the suit in New York because U.S. anti-discrimination laws are stronger than those in Europe.
Air France said in a statement that Price "was not sufficiently physically independent to comply with the basic safety regulations on board the aircraft, such as fastening and unfastening her seatbelt and pulling on and adjusting the oxygen mask without assistance, and therefore could not be accepted on board to travel alone."