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Old 6th Aug 2010, 08:13
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: EU
Posts: 261
Captain's authority versus ADA.

Can anyone give me some feedback about this issue. On a recent flight from the USA to Europe one of the passengers fell down shortly after he entered the aircraft (this is a major European carrier). He showed as someone who could walk short distances, and was brought to the aircraft by wheelchair.

The passenger travelled alone, was elderly, and not able to communicate in any meaningful manner (he is from a non-English speaking country). The cabin lead and captain decided to off load this passenger, but he refused to de-plane saying only that he was ok. Assistance was asked from the airport police and they refused to assist the passenger off the aircraft saying he was protected by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Only if the captain would arrest the passenger would they take him off. The reason to de-plane the passenger had to do with the higher risk of an in-flight diversion and the extra workload that this passenger would require without a proper way to communicate, and not a fear of violence.
Can anyone elaborate on whether the ADA supersedes the captains authority to “Disembark any person, or any part of the cargo, which in his opinion, may represent a potential hazard to the safety of the aeroplane or its occupants”?

The USA is a signatory to all the ICAO conventions which clearly outline the rule book most countries play by. But in this they seem to make their own interpretation.

And lastly how far does the responsibility go for airlines in transporting these types of passengers? I personally sympathize, but find it amazing that it is not required for a “helper” to travel along with these passengers. Shameful behavior by the family (he was dropped at the airport by his son).

Follow up:
The flight left with the passenger. They made it to the hub airport (more than 9 hours flying away). The passenger was taken to the hospital where he spend two weeks (paid by the taxpayer, since he was not insured), before the final leg of the journey to his home country could be made. His hospilization was not related to the fall, but not having the proper medicines on his person for his heart condition (which the airline did not know of). Family was flown in from the USA on the airline’s dime (including hotel costs), and a lawsuit was filed because of the fall by the passenger on board.

Last edited by Otterman; 6th Aug 2010 at 08:53.
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