US Airways: no solo flights for the disabled

If US Airways is looking for a motivational speaker to help it inspire employees and improve customer service, I have one in mind. In fact, he knows US Airways well, including the service areas most in need of help.

Johnnie Tuitel tried to fly the carrier recently but was told he was too disabled to go it alone.

According to the Associated Press:

“I was raised to believe I could grow up doing what I wanted to do and it didn’t lead me to any entitlement,” Johnnie Tuitel, 47, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Saturday. “By them denying me the ability to fly, I couldn’t do my job.”

It’s not like this motivational speaker, who has cerebral palsy, isn’t accustomed to flying. He has logged 500,000 miles to give his speeches.

Tuitel actually made it onto the plane, which was going from West Palm Beach to Kansas City, when a gate agent took him and wheeled him back to the terminal.

The reason he was given was straightforward:

“He told me I could fly on U.S. Airways if I could find a companion to go with me because I was a danger to myself and others if something went wrong,” Tuitel told WZZM-TV. “Trust me, they made a mistake.”

Two days later, he flew alone, as usual.

US Airways is leaning on policy (shocking, right?):

“The airline requires that the passenger has to be physically able to assist himself or herself in the event of an emergency. If the passenger cannot, the airline requires that someone else travels with the passenger who can provide assistance in the event of an emergency,” she told the television station.