Airline’s refusal to let disabled passenger board ‘not discrimination,’ court rules

Thanks to Elizabeth in her post at Ouch! for finding this one. This is a horrifying step in the wrong direction.

Friday, August 10, 2007 at 05:00 EDT

AMAGASAKI — The Kobe District Court dismissed on Thursday a damages suit filed by a 37-year-old man seeking compensation from Singapore Airlines, claiming the airline’s refusal to let him board the plane on his own due to his physical disability was discrimination.

Plaintiff Masayuki Ota, who suffers from brain paralysis, sought 1.65 million yen in compensation from the airline. Ota said he plans to appeal the ruling.

In handing down the ruling at the court’s Amagasaki branch, Presiding Judge Kunio Takenaka said it is necessary for flight attendants and the captain to have a common view prior to departure on what measures to take in case of an emergency.

“It was two hours before departure that the plane’s crew found out about Mr Ota’s disability, and it was difficult to respond. Even while taking into consideration the need for social participation by disabled people, it cannot be said that the handling was discriminative,” the judge said.

According to the ruling, Ota tried to fly to Bangkok from Kansai International Airport on a Singapore Airlines flight to meet a friend in July 2003.

But the airline did not allow him to board the plane without an escort because he had disabilities to his limbs and in speaking ability.

After the ruling, Ota’s lawyer Toshihiro Higashi criticized the court’s decision, saying disabled people cannot move freely if it is necessary for them to notify in advance each time what disorders they have, adding he does not understand why such a standard applies only to airlines.

Ota said, “It’s a ruling that prevents disabled people from participating in society. We have to continue fighting.”

Airline’s refusal to let disabled passenger board ‘not discrimination,’ court rules


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