Was a Double Amputee Passenger Mistreated By the Airline?

Marine Lance Corporal Christian Brown is shown here in Afghanistan with the American flag before he lost both his legs and a finger due to stepping on an explosive device. Photograph provided by the facebook Internet web site of Christian Brown.

There is anger and public outrage over the treatment by airline employees of a passenger who no longer has his legs — but FlyerTalk members question the details of the incident as it was reported.

Lance Corporal Christian Brown of the United States Marine Corps claims that he was “humiliated” to the point of tears on a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Washington after being wheeled to the back row of the plane, according to a complaint sent to the airline by outraged fellow passenger retired Army Colonel Nickey Knighton as reported by an article by The Washington Post — and fellow military veterans are purportedly angered as well.

Because of the fact that this incident involves a member of the armed services who lost both of his legs and a finger after stepping on an explosive device while on foot patrol serving his country in Afghanistan, it is difficult for some people to not be emotional — so please allow me for a moment to remove the fact that the 29-year-old man is a Marine and look at this incident objectively.

Brown — who had a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit and was shaking from being very ill at the time of the incident — was the last person boarded onto the airplane with the assistance of either an employee of Delta Air Lines or of a third-party contractor. Although an unidentified fellow passenger supposedly offered to give up a seat in the premium class cabin, flight attendants reportedly insisted that no one could move through the cabin because the doors were being closed for takeoff — despite several fellow passengers offering to assist with the seat exchange.

Brown was “obviously humiliated by being paraded through the aircraft” and in tears as he was wheeled to the last row of the aircraft in the economy class cabin in a narrow aviation wheelchair.

Supposing for a moment that the two paragraphs colored in dark green above was the entire story. Does this change anything?

The article in The Washington Post was apparently filled with sentimental rhetoric specifically designed with the intent to compel the reader to sympathize with Brown — but if all of the extraneous verbiage in the article was removed, would Delta Air Lines be at fault?

Furthermore, why was he traveling while he was shaking with a fever of 104 degrees? Should he not have concentrated on first improving his health before flying as a passenger on a commercial airline — as this woman should have done before attempting to fly as a passenger, only to die before being able to get home — with the potential to infect other passengers? Many pilots of Delta Air Lines are former members of the United States military — why were they not contacted as soon as possible where they may have provided the best solution to this situation?

I am not advocating whether or not Brown should receive special treatment after sacrificing himself while serving the people of the United States. Irrespective of other occupations, people who served in the military deserve the utmost of respect and appreciation for their service — especially when they are permanently injured or disabled.

Assuming the argument that the man in question being an injured Marine is irrelevant, would this incident even have been a story? Why was Brown boarded as the last passenger onto the aircraft? Does Delta Air Lines need to change its policies pertaining to disabled or injured passengers? Does being a person who served in the military warrant priority treatment, injured or not? What if Brown was an injured police officer, firefighter, teacher, doctor — or what if the person who is the focus of attention in the story was you instead of him? Would your opinion change?

What do you think?

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • paulwuk at 11:23am December 17, 2012

    Why was someone with such a fever allowed to board the plane?

    Where was his allocated seat?

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