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Delta Passenger Sues Carrier, Forced To Crawl Off Aircraft And Across Tarmac
By Jim Douglas
July 30, 2013 - D. Baraka Kanaan suffers from paraparesis and as a result is wheelchair bound, Kanaan has filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines and several of its employees alleging the air carrier forced him to crawl onto and off an aircraft and then across the tarmac as Delta employees looked on without offering him assistance as required under the Air Carrier Access Act. Delta Airlines tried to make it right by offering Kanaan 25,000 sky miles as compensation.

On July 27, 2012, Kanaan, traveling on Flight 4110 from Maui, Hawaii to Nantucket, Massachusetts for a spinal fusion operation was forced to crawl across an airport tarmac, up and down the stairs of an airplane, down the aisle of the aircraft, and out of and into his seat on the airplane because the carrier did not have a wheelchair.

The carrier apologized and assured him this would not happen again but it did on July 29, 2012, Kanaan was subject to the same treatment on his return flight.
Kanaan contacted Delta Air Lines several weeks before his flight at which time he informed them that he was disable that he would be traveling with his own wheelchair, and that he required the use of an aisle chair and lift to access the aircraft because he is unable to walk. Delta Air Lines representative assured him that his information would be noted and he would be provided the assistance needed to board and unboard their aircraft.

When Kanaan arrival at Nantucket Airport he was informed by a flight attendant that the airline did not have an "aisle chair" to bring him to the aircraft door nor a lift to lower him down the aircraft stairs to the tarmac where his wheelchair awaited him. Kanaan asked the flight attendant what his options were, the flight attendant respond “Idont know but we can’t get you off the plane”. With no options at all Kanaan crawled off the aircraft down the stairs and across the tarmac to his wheelchair without assistance.

When Kanaan reached the terminal he registered a complaint with the carrier. The carrier offered him a $100 voucher and informed hi that this would never happen again. Kanaan informed the carrier that he would be leaving Nantucket on the 29th on Flight 4245. Kanaan was informed that the proper equipment would be available at Nantucket airport on his return flight.


On the 29th Kanaan retuned back to the aircraft to return back to Hawaii. When Kanaan was to board the aircraft he was told that the aisle chair and a lift were unavailable, but the carrier could provide a piece of cardboard to put down so that his clothes wouldn't get dirty. Again Kanaan was again forced to crawl across the tarmac, up the stairs of the aircraft, down the aisle, and hoist himself into his seat on the aircraft. In court documents it states that Delta on a number of occasions failed to meet the need of the disabled as required by law.

• Delta left a blind woman alone in a wheelchair on a moving walkway;
• Delta failed to bring an 81 year old man to a hotel after cancelling his flight. The man had to sleep in a wheelchair
• An elderly couple in wheelchairs missed an international flight because Delta failed to board them;
• A woman who needs a ventilator to breathe was removed from a Delta flight, which was a return flight, because the Delta flight crew inexplicably determined that her ventilator and medical equipment could not be brought on the plane.

A 2011 DOT investigation found that disability complaints filed with Delta and DOT revealed many violations of the requirement to provide assistance getting on and off the airplane. The carrier's complaint files also showed that it frequently did not provide an adequate written response to disability complaints from passengers.

The Aviation Enforcement Officer further found that Delta also failed to properly report each disability complaint in reports filed with the Department. These incidents continue to occur despite Delta reportedly being fined $1.35 million in 2003, $2 million fine in 2011. (see Mesaba Airlines a "Delta Connection" Fined For Failing To Provide Wheelchair Services)
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