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GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) - A MOTIVATIONAL speaker with cerebral palsy said he was humiliated when he was kicked off a US Airways flight after being told he was too disabled to fly alone.
'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 on Saturday. 'By them denying me the ability to fly, I couldn't do my job.' Mr Tuitel, 47, of Grand Rapids Township, Michigan, said he has flown over 800,000km to give motivational speeches, but he missed one because of the Sept 23 incident at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.
After helping him into his seat aboard a flight from West Palm Beach to Kansas City, a US Airways gate agent returned and wheeled Tuitel back to the terminal, he said.
'He told me I could fly on US Airways if I could find a companion to go with me because I was a danger to myself and others if something went wrong,' Mr Tuitel told WZZM-TV. 'Trust me, they made a mistake.' Mr Tuitel flew solo two days later on another airline, but by then he had missed the speech he was scheduled to give at the 2010 National Self Advocacy Conference.
US Airways spokesman Valerie Wunder said the gate agent was following company policy.
'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.
Man 'too disabled to fly'