Sat, Feb 02, 2019 - Page 12 News List

EVA to demand passenger brings carer

LEGAL LIMITS:The carrier said US law prohibits airlines from rejecting passengers due to their disabilities, but it would put a man who caused a stir on a ‘special customer list’

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

In response to growing concerns from the Flight Attendants’ Union, EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) yesterday said it would not provide transportation to a male passenger who last month asked a flight attendant to wipe his behind unless he is accompanied by an assistant.

During a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei on Jan. 19, the passenger, who traveled in a wheelchair, asked the cabin crew to remove his underpants and, after defecating, asked cabin attendants to wipe his behind, prompting the union to urge the company to take action, including blacklisting the passenger.

“We cannot directly refuse transportation to the male passenger, as he is disabled and protected by the US American Air Carrier Access Act,” EVA spokesman Golden Kou (柯金成) told a news conference in Taipei. “We have to be cautious and ensure that we do not break the law.”

Under changes to the act by the US Department of Transportation in 2009, US and non-US carriers offering flights to and from the US cannot exclude disabled passengers, unless carrying them would endanger flight safety, Kou said.

“It might not be easy to pusuade authorities that carrying such a passenger will endanger flight safety, even though he treated the crew wrongly,” Kou told the Taipei Times.

However, the most profitable Taiwanese airline said that it would require the passenger to travel with an assistant who could help with his special needs, or the firm would decline to transport him.

“We are confident that the condition is justified, as the passenger made inappropriate demands of our crew, and two attendants have already filed a suit against him,” Kou said.

The act does not give passengers the absolute right to fly with the airlines, and if the passengers infringe on others’ rights, the firm can still take action, EVA Airways legal division head Mori Hsu (許惠森) said.

Kou declined to verify reports that the man booked a flight with EVA in May, citing personal data protection laws, but said that the condition would be valid for any future flight.

The man would not be blacklisted, as “no carrier would admit that there is such a list, “Kou said.

However, he added that the firm has put him on a “special customers” list and would warn employees if he were to fly again.

The passenger’s last booking went unnoticed due to an extra blank space in his name that caused the system to overlook it, but the firm has fixed the error, EVA said.

The airline said it is still investigating whether the man sexually harassed cabin attendants on the flight.

It has also reported a data leak to the police, who would investigate who shared the passenger’s personal information and flight schedule online, EVA said.

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