There’s a certain visual absurdity in seeing an airline passenger dressed like she’s entering a nuclear reactor after a meltdown or a burning building, but I tend to think Alaska Airlines acted even more absurdly in kicking her off a flight in another argument over PPE.
Alaska Airlines Kicks Off Woman Who Wore Too Much PPE
Judy Ferguson, 75 and terminally ill with lung disease (pulmonary fibrosis), was traveling from Fairbanks to Seattle on Alaska Airlines. During boarding, she donned an N95 mask with a face shield over it. But onboard, she took those off and placed on a respirator helmet, pictured below.
Such masks are not permitted due to their exhaust valves, and Ferguson was approached by a flight attendant, who offered her a complimentary 3-ply mask. Apparently, an argument ensued. Initially, Ferguson flatly refused to take off her respirator helmet.
Eventually, she put back on her N95 mask and visor, but by this time Alaska Airlines decided she was a “risk” and a supervisor boarded and promptly demanded she get off the plane in order to discuss her issue.
Per Alaska Public Radio:
“Ferguson says a couple of Alaska Airlines workers grabbed her carry-on bags and escorted her off the airplane. She says she was met at the gate by an airport police officer, who forcefully escorted her to the ticket counter. She says an Alaska Airlines ticket agent offered to book another flight in two hours, if she calmed down. But she refused, and left the airport.”
Ferguson says she was manhandled while being escorted off the aircraft, resulting in bruising. While she has thus far indicated she is not intending to file a lawsuit, if I were Alaska Airlines I’d start preparing for one now…
Then again, authorities note she was “uncooperative and disruptive.”
But hasn’t that just become a boilerplate defense?
Alaska Airlines has also refused to address any of the specifics of what happened onboard.
If Ferguson did, in fact, take off her helmet and place her mask back on, she should have been cut some slack…she’s much closer to death than most of us are…and allowed to fly.
A little empathy goes a long way. I understand that argumentative passengers can pose a flight risk, but come on…how risky is a senior citizen fighting to wear even stronger protective equipment than is permissible? Probably not a terrorist…
(H/T: View from the Wing)