January 19, 2004
Airline apologises to deaf group
From: BBC News, UK - Jan 19, 2004
The airline easyJet has apologised to a group of deaf people after a pilot refused to fly them on safety grounds.
The group, who are suing the company over the incident, were asked to leave the Amsterdam-bound plane at Liverpool's John Lennon airport.
They had already boarded the plane and were preparing for take-off when they were informed that the captain wanted them to leave the aircraft.
EasyJet, who originally defended the captain, has now admitted he was wrong and "misunderstood the regulations".
A spokesman said that he had mistakenly believed that the group "fitted the same category" as special needs passengers and, as such, would need to be accompanied by carers in case of an emergency evacuation.
The spokesman explained: "The group was not accompanied by carers and the pilot was unsure that in the event of an emergency he would be able to clear the plane within 90 seconds.
"But there was no problem communicating with these deaf passengers.
"They were able-bodied and did not need physical assistance."
She added: "Once we realised what had happened, we put them on the next flight and apologised profusely.
"We are in the process of offering them a free flight to redeem ourselves."
However the group say this is not adequate and have now begun legal proceedings against the airline over the incident in October.
The solicitor representing the group says they all found the experience humiliating.
Â© BBC MMIV