On March 27, 2017, Mark E. Smith, a regular contributor to New Mobility and power chair user with cerebral palsy, was removed with no explanation from his Los Angeles to Philadelphia flight by American Airlines staff.
The incident began after Smith had transferred to his row 27 seat, and the doors were about to close for an 11:30 a.m. on time departure. Without speaking to Smith, airline staff asked the two women sitting next to Mark to move from their seats, explaining they were removing Smith from the plane. He was strapped into an aisle chair and wheeled up out of the plane, past most of the passengers, who watched in silence.
Flight 121 departed without Smith, and he waited in the jet way, still strapped in the aisle chair for a half hour before his power chair finally arrived, with the leg rests incorrectly installed. “I had to go into a wheelchair stall for my own privacy to get my leg rests, arm rests, and positioning straps straightened out,” says Smith. He was re-booked on the next American Airline flight to Philadelphia, which departed at 3 p.m.
American Airlines issued the following statement, “We apologize to Mr. Smith for his recent experience and have reached out to him to gather additional information. American does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and we are committed to providing a positive travel experience for all of our customers.”
For more information you can read the following article published by New Mobility: http://www.newmobility.com/2017/03/new-mobility-contributor-removed-american-airlines-flight/
Mark Smith’s blog article “American Airlines Checked My Dignity at the Gate”: https://powerchairdiaries.com/2017/03/29/american-airlines-checked-my-dignity-at-the-gate/
(image description: the front half of an airline in the sky with the words American on the side of the airline. The airline is silver with red, white and blue painted stripes running the length of the airline. Above the red, white, and blue painted strips is the word American in red.)