A disabled Hawaii man is suing Delta Airlines after he says that the company forced him to crawl across the airport tarmac three times and only offered him cardboard so he would not get his suit dirty.
A lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Hawaii claims that Baraka Kanaan was “forced to crawl across an airport tarmac, up and down the stairs of an airplane, down the aisle of the aircraft and out of and into his seat” on a series of flights between Massachusetts and Hawaii July 2012.
Kanaan, who is a former college professor and currently heads a nonprofit, was left disabled after a car accident in 2000 caused severe spinal injuries.
"I was forced by Delta Airlines, just days before having a spinal fusion surgery, I was forced to crawl from my chair, through the cabin of the plane, down a flight of stairs with no backing or sides and across the tarmac to get to my wheelchair," Kanaan explained in a video posted to Facebook on Saturday. "Here we are in the modern day and people who are able bodied were standing around with their arms crossed watching me crawl under the guise that they could not touch me lest they be liable."
Kanaan said that he did not initially go public about the incident because Delta swore to him that it would never happen to him or anyone else again. The company promised to be prepared before his next flight and offered him a $100 voucher for his troubles.
But when he arrived for his flight two days later, he was once again forced to crawl up a flight of stairs as Delta employees refused to assist other than offering him "a piece of cardboard to put down so that his clothes wouldn't get dirty," the lawsuit states
According to the complaint, Delta offered Kanaan 25,000 SkyMiles, but he refused because he never intended to fly the airline again.
As The Huffington Post noted, the Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to "provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities by using ramps, mechanical lifts, or other suitable devices where level-entry boarding by loading bridge or mobile lounge is not available."
"This has to stop. The question is, what's the incentive to get Delta to stop?" Kanaan asked in Facebook video. "Well, my request is that you would call Delta headquarters... call them, complain that this stuff is happening. Complain. Call your representatives. Call somebody. Make it known that Delta cannot get away by treating disabled people this way. Because otherwise, they're not going to do anything."
Watch this video from Baraka Kanaan, uploaded July 27, 2013.