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Airline Tells Self-Advocate He’s ‘Too Disabled To Fly’

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A man with cerebral palsy missed his own speaking engagement last month at a national self-advocacy conference after US Airways removed him from a flight calling him “too disabled to fly.”

Johnnie Tuitel was scheduled to fly Sept. 23 from Palm Beach, Fla. to attend the 2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference in Kansas City, Mo. put on by Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, or SABE. After a US Airways employee helped him board the plane, the employee returned to tell Tuitel, who uses a wheelchair, that for safety reasons he needed a companion in order to fly that day.

Tuitel, who lives in Grand Rapids Township, Mich., says he’s flown 500,000 miles, often related to his work as a motivational speaker, and has never had a problem flying by himself. In fact, two days later Tuitel flew alone on a Delta flight.

Representatives of US Airways said their employees acted within company policy which states: “For safety-related reasons, if a passenger has a mobility impairment so severe that the person is unable to physically assist in his or her own evacuation from the aircraft, US Airways requires that a person travel with a safety assistant.”

Since Tuitel’s story began circulating, however, the airline contacted him again and the two parties are expected to meet in the coming weeks to review the company’s policy, reports The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press. To read more click here.

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