Florida Attorney General Asks US Airways For Explanation Over
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 18, 2005
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Last Saturday, Phil Barrett was on board a US Airways flight ready to fly from Tampa to Cleveland for surgery when airline personnel suddenly removed him.
Even though Barrett, who uses a ventilator to breathe and a wheelchair, had been on nearly two dozen flights with US Airways in the past, airline officials decided this time that his ventilator was a life-support device and that he now presented a medical risk.
"I was discriminated against, embarrassed," said Barrett, 33, whose spinal cord was injured 13 years ago in a diving accident.
The airline provided Barrett with a taxi ride home and a full refund of his ticket, but did not arrange another way for him to get to Cleveland.
Fortunately for Barrett, an area business owner arranged for him to be flown on his company's private jet to Cleveland. There Barrett is expected to undergo surgery to implant electrodes into his diaphragm so he will have less need for a ventilator.
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist learned about Barrett's ordeal on a local TV newscast.
On Tuesday, Crist wrote a letter to Bruce Lakefield, CEO and President of US Airways, demanding an explanation and remedies for Barrett.
"I am confident that US Airways would not condone discrimination against its physically disabled passengers and that you have policies in place to assist and protect such customers," Crist wrote. "Furthermore, as I am certain you are aware, federal regulations specifically prohibit air carriers from refusing transportation to an individual with disabilities, and federal and state civil rights laws provide protection for individuals from discrimination on domestic flights."
"No less than the United States Constitution affords the right of all Americans to interstate travel."
"Quadriplegic taken off TIA flight" (St. Petersburg Times)
"Crist Writes to US Airways President Over Disabilities Incident" (Office of the Attorney General of Florida)