Airplane Wing in Flight

American Airlines Employees Caused Pain and Humiliation

On March 9, 2018, a colleague and I flew on an early morning flight on American from DCA to LAS. My colleague and I were assigned to seats that were not together. We requested to be sat together. My colleague (a larger sized man than I) was transferred by employees into a seat on aisle 26. Employees attempted to transfer me into a seat next to my colleague; however, I became stuck on aisle 7 at the bulkhead seats. I have flown many times on several airlines and this has been the first time that I was ever unable to be moved through the aisles. My right hip was repeatedly slammed into a seat’s left arm rest because I had been secured in the aisle chair at an angle that left my right buttocks extended beyond the seat and my knees turned to the left, which precluded me from being taken down the aisle. As employees attempted to drag me through the seats, I requested that employees re-position my hip and they refused. Passengers asked, “Why don’t you just do what he asks?” Then I requested that employees stop altogether and these requests were refused. A fellow passenger who identified herself as a nurse told the employees that they were trying to transfer me in a way that could injure me. Even though I was visibly humiliated and passengers were aggravated at the treatment that I was receiving, an employee replied, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and know what I am doing.” He warned the nurse to set down suggesting that if she failed to comply that she could be removed from the flight. The employee continued to attempt to drag me through the seat. Eventually, employees lifted me over the seat, twisted my back and hips and placed me into the chair. During this process, passengers were attempting to board and watched this stressful and humiliating ordeal. I was so traumatized by the abusive behavior that I received that I begged to be taken off of the plane. After passengers finished boarding the plane, the ticket agent asked me if I was comfortable. I replied, “No. I am extremely embarrassed and my back is sore!” I told the agent that I felt publicly humiliated because of my disability since many of the waiting passengers knew the flight was being delayed because of me. The agent said, “We are going to move you to first class.” I replied, “No. Leave me alone and take me home!” I was frustrated with the overall situation, physically and mentally tired, and fed up with the agent insisting to move my seat. Eventually I told the agent, “Do what you want. Take me home!” Then the agent asked a passenger in first class to move from her seat, without explanation, so that I could be transferred there. The agent had employees transfer me to first class. The first class passenger who was moved was initially upset at being ordered from her seat. During the transfer, I was improperly lifted onto the aisle chair and then wheeled to my new seat. By me being transferred again, the flight was delayed further and I was further embarrassed. I kept my head down, weeping and hurting, until I finally fell asleep from exhaustion. When the plane landed and was being deplaned, passengers verbally expressed their regret and sympathy for me being treated so poorly. The previously displaced passenger stopped by my seat to tell me she was sorry about the way I was treated and that she would have volunteered to give up her seat had she known what was happening. It was clear to me that the main concern for the crew was pushing back from the gate as soon as possible without regard for me or my well-being.

Mr. Daniel Kaminski, NV