Deaf Travelers Kept Off Flight for 'Security Reasons'

French government weighs in
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2011 10:26 AM CDT
Deaf Travelers Kept Off Flight for 'Security Reasons'
Hearing-impaired plane passengers weren't allowed on a flight for "security reasons."   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A group of hard-of-hearing travelers in France was barred from its flight after checking its bags for “security reasons,” a French airline said. “Just as we were about to board, someone from the company told us we couldn't,” said a member of the group, 18 of whom are deaf while three are hard of hearing. “We tried to explain to the person who was liaising between us and the pilot that we were all perfectly self-reliant.”

Air Méditeranée “regretted” the incident, said a spokeswoman, but under its policy, "a deaf and dumb person is considered a person of reduced mobility," in which case the airline typically beefs up its cabin crew to one crewmember per five people. The airline acknowledged that it should have had the pilot explain the situation, the Local reports. "They felt they were being excluded because of their disability when, in fact, it was just for security reasons," the rep added. But "on an airplane, a deaf person is in the same situation as someone who doesn't speak the language of the cabin crew," said a government minister. "Should we only allow people who speak English or French to board?" Authorities will hold hearings if necessary, says an official. (Read more airline industry stories.)

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