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“You’re Not a Normal Person”: Asiana Passenger With Prosthetic Leg Denied Premium Seat

A passenger with a prosthetic leg, who says he paid extra for a seat with a little extra room, was told that he was not fit to sit in the exit row of an Asiana Airlines flight this week.

San Francisco-based frequent flyer and professional skateboarder Tim Seward says that it was discrimination and not safety concerns that led Asiana Airlines to force him to change seats even after he had paid a substantial extra fee for an exit row seat. Seward, who lost his leg to cancer as a child, says that despite the fact that he is more than capable of assisting the crew in an emergency, he was denied his exit row seat simply because he has a prosthetic leg.

When an airline representative approached Seward to tell him he would need to relocate before his flight from China to South Korea could depart this week, he quickly started filming the exchange. While there was some confusion, stemming from a possible language barrier, the employee’s firm position seemed to very much defy reason.

“It’s not safe,” the airline representative told Seward right off the bat. “You’re not a normal person. It’s for the safety of the passengers.”

Seward eventually agreed to give up his seat, but did not give up attempting to make the employee see reason.

“So the company told you to move a disabled person because in this seat, according to your policy, you do not allow a disabled person to sit in this seat, because I wear a prosthetic leg,” Seward countered during the mobile device-recorded discussion. “But if you’re asking me to move, that proves I can move, right? I don’t need a wheelchair to move to another seat, right? Your reasoning doesn’t make much sense.”

He soon gave up on his attempt to pursue the debate about his physical capabilities after the employee suggested he “try to run and jump” to prove his physical fitness for the exit row seat.

“For anyone to judge me based on my prosthetic alone is absolutely insane,” Seward told San Francisco NBC affiliate WKNTV. “I’m not really that upset with the airline,” he said. “I feel more disgusted in people that are not aware of this kind of discrimination and not understanding that this is pure discrimination against someone that is disabled.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
RoyalPaincess May 27, 2017

Many people with prosthetics can run marathons and perform physical feats far beyond what many "able" bodies can do. If this guy were wearing pants, they likely never would have even known, and nothing would have been said nor suspected. I agree with @mrstev that at least some amount of discrimination was involved - if nothing else, for fear of the unknown perhaps.

mrstev May 26, 2017

I would take this guy sitting in my emergency row over 90% of the people I see sitting there. Many are small, old frail, obese, drunk, and just plain “not fit”. This guy is an athlete, and I’m sure that’s apparent when you see him in person. He could toss the old, fat, frail, drunk people out of the way and still get the exit door open! I understand the airline have rules, but I agree with Tim Seward, it not about capability. There is some level of discrimination going on here because of his prosthetic. There has to be some middle-ground. Maybe he somehow demonstrates capability? Maybe his airline profile gets tagged with an “o.k. for exit row” note? Anyone who thinks thing that his prosthetic leg makes him less capable of opening the exit door clearly doesn’t know any young, fit people with prosthetics.

JackE May 26, 2017

I'm curious as to whether he uses a disabled placard. If he does, then case closed. Next!

FlyingNone May 26, 2017

“But if you’re asking me to move, that proves I can move, right? I don’t need a wheelchair to move to another seat, right? Your reasoning doesn’t make much sense.”.... --- ..and neither does your (reasoning), Tim. Just because a person can "move", doesn't mean they should be in the exit row.

colin5353 May 26, 2017

If he was flying on QANTAS they would have moved him as well. Note the following requirements and additional conditions for exit row seats: Requirements In order to sit in an exit row seat, you must: be at least fifteen years old; not be travelling with someone who needs your assistance in an emergency e.g. an infant or child unless there is another guardian seated elsewhere with the child; not require the use of an infant/extension seat belt; be willing and able to move quickly and assist crew in an emergency situation; be willing and able to listen to a briefing, check outside conditions and follow instructions given in English by crew; be physically able to reach, open, lift and throw out an emergency exit up to twenty (20) kgs; not be travelling with a service dog; not have an amputated or prosthetic limb; not have a visual impairment that is not corrected by use of spectacles/glasses/contact lenses, which must be worn during taxi, take-off and landing; not have a hearing impairment that is not corrected by use of a hearing aid/device*, which must be worn during taxi, take-off and landing; and not utilise any part of the aircraft door (or its surrounding area) to rest your feet, or any other personal item(s).