Paralysed man forced to crawl across tarmac

ninemsn staff
5:52am July 29, 2013
A car accident in 2000 left Dr Baraka Kanaan paralysed.
A car accident in 2000 left Dr Baraka Kanaan paralysed.

A paralysed man is suing Delta Airlines over claims he was forced to crawl down an airplane aisle and across the tarmac to his wheelchair, twice, because Delta was not equipped to help him on and off the plane.

Baraka Kanaan, a former philosophy professor, was flying from his home in Hawaii to Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, to attend a conference in July last year.

In this lawsuit, filed last week in a federal court in Hawaii, Mr Kanaan claims that he called a Delta customer service representative several weeks in advance to explain that he would need a lift to get onto the airplane and an aisle chair to get him to his seat, the Huffington Post reports.

Mr Kanaan, who was left without use of his legs following a car accident in 2000, was reportedly assured that this would not be a problem.

But when he arrived in Nantucket, Mr Kanaan was told by flight attendants that there was no equipment to help him off the plane and take him to his wheelchair.

When he asked what could be done, a flight attendant allegedly told him, "I don't know, but we can't get you off the plane."

Mr Kanaan said he had no option but to crawl in his best suit "hand over hand" through the cabin, down a flight of stairs and across the tarmac to his wheelchair, with no help from flight attendants, he claims.

And he had to repeat the same humiliating ordeal getting back on the plane for his return flight, he claims, despite calling again to check that proper equipment would be available.

The only difference this time around was that airline staff offered to place cardboard beneath him so that his clothes would not get dirty, he alleges.

Once he returned home and complained to Delta, Mr Kanaan said he was offered 25,000 "sky miles" and a $100 voucher.

But he refused, saying that he feared he might again have to crawl on his hands and knees on future flights.

He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial.

Federal laws in the US state that airplanes with more than 30 passengers must provide boarding assistance to passengers with disabilities by using ramps, lifts or other devices.

The capacity of the plane that Mr Kanaan flew to Nantucket is not clear.

Source: Huffington Post
Author: Erin Tennant, Approving Editor: Sophie Cousins.

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