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Is American Airlines Putting Elderly Passengers at Risk?

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Earlier this month, an 88-year-old man was trying to board his flight home with American Airlines at the Nashville International Airport. Given his age, he had set up wheelchair assistance beforehand. There weren’t many employees available for early-morning flights, but the man and his sister did manage to find an agent in the kiosk area handing passengers their boarding passes. When told the man needed a wheelchair, the agent said they would have to wait in line. After 40 minutes of standing in line, the man collapsed, fell face-first and struck his head on a metal pole.

Five minutes later, paramedics arrived along with a wheelchair. When asked why the wheelchair wasn’t brought sooner, the agent responded that they “didn’t always have one available.” The man was lucky not receive a more serious traumatic brain injury, but he did leave with facial lacerations and a black eye due to the possible negligence of the airline staff.


Traveling on a plane is always stressful, especially when you think about the long waits, luggage check-ins and security. It is unfortunate, but people with disabilities and the elderly face an even more grueling process, especially if the airport or airline personnel is being negligent.

Typically, airlines have disabled passenger policies. When a disabled passenger arrives at the airport, a desk should be made available with the sign “Passenger Service Team,” or something to that extent, with the universal blue wheelchair symbol. These employees are supposed to assist people with disabilities or elderly passengers by advising airport boarding policies, providing wheelchairs or other assistance. The Air Carrier Access Act, which was passed in 1986, requires airlines to provide free wheelchair service to everyone who requests it.

Airports and airlines have a responsibility to provide the proper equipment for the disabled and elderly. Moreover, they have a responsibility to properly train their employees on how to follow procedures to better accommodate the elderly and the disabled.

The Law Office of Stanley A. Davis is a Nashville personal injury law firm that fights for victims who have sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16


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