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thrown off a flight for having a seizure

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posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 08:49 AM
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Good morning all!

I didn't know where to place this post, so I figured this would be the most benign place to put it.

On 10/20/2014 I was physically removed from a United airlines flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Chicago O'hare. I was removed because i had a petit mal seizure. I recently heard from the paralegal from the Epilepsy Foundation who in essence told me the incident was my fault. To save time, I will cut and paste the letters. I am writing because my LAST step was to contact the media. I have only done this once in 2001 when my husband and I were arrested in Washington DC for NO REASON, beaten up and then charged with assaulting a police officer......(I even wrote of my account here as I was warning that this kind of action by the police would become more common....and it looks like I was correct).....nothing ever came of my report and I suspect nothing will in this incident either....but I wanted to run it by ya'll.....kinda pick the "brain" of ATS about what else to do with regard to this incident.....so here goes....

first the letter I sent to the customer service director for United at O'Hare:
Ms Jamison’

First, let me once again thank you for taking the time out to speak with us on Tuesday evening when we returned from Puerto Rico. I know you probably have a very stressful job and are very busy! After our experience on Monday in San Juan, it was refreshing to find someone helpful.

I will try to give as many details as I can. Let me start this off by stating that I have never felt so humiliated in my entire life. I felt like I was a criminal the way I was pulled off that flight in front of hundreds of passengers.

When my husband originally booked the flights, he had to do it separately so we could use two $200.00 vouchers we had received in March 2014 when we flew to Mexico. Because of this, he was unable to get us seats together when he book the flight. In the past, when this has happened to us, we normally can either get the gate agent to switch it for us, or find passengers who will gladly trade seats so a husband and wife can sit together. The agent in Chicago was able to get us seats across the aisle from one another on our flight to San Juan, PR..

On our fight home from Puerto Rico, my husband dropped me off at the airport so he could return our rental car. I checked in first and explained to the agent that my husband and I would like to sit together. She stated she couldn’t do that at check in, but to check in at the gate and the person there would try to switch our seats so we could sit together. I rarely tell anyone when I book or check in that I have a seizure disorder because I rarely get them. Certain circumstances have to be met: I get over heated, I am ill or dehydrated or I get very upset, (i had a seizure when my father died).
My seat was 25A. I accidentally sat in 26A and when those people got there, I had to move up to where my seat was. A couple was already seated in the middle and aisle seats. Inside the plane, the temperature was close to 100 degrees; especially as I was seated next to the window that was facing the sun. I was beginning already to feel faint, but I knew that once the plane would take off, if I could just suffer through it, I may not get sick as the air would begin to get cooler.

When I had to go to my “real” seat, I asked the man sitting in the aisle seat if he minded switching seats with me. He rudely told me no. So when I sat down at the window, I told the couple next to me that I had a seizure disorder and that if I had one, they may have to help me or get a stewardess. I was simply trying to warn them in case I DID have one as all the conditions were ripe for me to have one: It was very hot, I had been suffering from an intestinal problem most of the trip and was dehydrated. The woman sitting next to me, who was obviously inebriated, started to tell me how rude I was making demands and that she wouldn’t do a GD thing to help me because I was so rude, demanding and just who did I think I was, etc etc. Now I am not shy, by any means, so I asked the woman why she was being s rude to me. She told me I didn’t say PLEASE when I asked for her help were I to have a seizure. Basically, the woman would not stop badgering me. All this time, her husband kept telling her to calm down, to stop talking. I also told her to just let it go, to please stop talking to me…..then she got even nastier and simply wouldn’t stop badgering me about how rude I was and that she didm;t have to do a GD thing to help me. I then got very upset and , yes, I yelled at her to PLEAAE LEAVE ME ALONE…to PLEASE STOP TALKING…..I was beginning to panic because I could feel a seizure coming on, (it is called an “aura” and most epileptics have them before a seizure). The woman next to me then started yelling for a stewardess and told her that she didn’t feel safe with me on the plane. I TRIED to explain to the lady, (she was blonde), that my husband was at the front of the plane (11A I believe) and to please get him as he knew what to do to help me. I was very panicked, red in the face from the heat and was shaking by this time. The woman next to me said I was lying, I didn’t have a husband and that she wanted me off the plane as she didn’t feel safe. Another stewardess came and she asked me to leave my seat and come with her. By this time I was hyperventilating and crying. I had just had a petit mal seizure and I get REALLY scared when I come out of it. A petit mal seizure can last only seconds and can be mistaken for ALL KINDS of things. I was roughly pulled from the aisle and the woman, (dark hair, maybe Puerto Rican as she spoke Spanish) kept yelling at me to come with her and stop making a scene. I was crying for her to let me tell my husband. She would not help me find him nor was she going to let me stop….”come with ME MA’AM…right now!!!” She was yelling at me. The ONLY reason my husband knew what was happening was because I saw him and started to scream for him to help me. My HUSBAND has felt with me and my seizures for years…..even the really bad Grand Mal ones where I completely go unconscious and start to convulse and stop breathing.

I cannot recall what happened after I got off the plane, (common after a seizure to forget what has happened at various times during the experience), but my husband told me that the pilot stated he felt I was a “security risk” and wouldn’t let me fly. My husband also stated that the stewardesses questioned him about my epilepsy and that he confirmed I had it. They asked why we didn’t get seats together and we told them what happened. My husband was allowed to go into the plane to get my carry on, but we were stranded in Puerto Rico without having any of our luggage, which held all of my medications.

I was HUMILIATED by this experience. NOT ONCE would the stewardesses go and get my husband. He would have been able to calm me down and after the seizure, I would have simply slept. They never asked the woman who was yelling at me the entire time to calm down and be quiet.

The scariest thing of all is that had I been given the seat in 11A and my husband the one on 25A, he would have NEVER known I was removed from the flight and I would have been left in San Juan, PR ALONE with no luggage, no medication and no money other than what I had in my wallet, (this trip was for my birthday that my husband surprised me with). I would have probably freaked out and then been taken to a hospital…




posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 08:50 AM
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Next, here is the letter I got from the "legal dept" of the Epilepsy Foundation:
Dear Mrs. Pelzek:

Thank you for your email. Your email was referred to the Epilepsy Foundation's Legal Advocacy department for response.

First, I would like to suggest that for future flights (and to avoid any misunderstandings) that you arrange for specific seating, including seating next to your husband prior to the flight. Generally, this should be requested 24 hours in advance.

Second, you may want to refrain from asking other passengers to assist you with first aid for seizures. The law does not require passengers to provide assistance and some people may feel uncomfortable providing assistance to people with medical issues for liability reasons. If you are traveling with a companion, it is only necessary that your travel companion know how to deal with the seizure activity. Additionally, this couple's response seems to have caused such an alarm that the pilot and flight staff assumed you presented a danger to yourself and others.

I suggest that you review information about your rights under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This law prohibits discrimination by U.S. and foreign air carriers on the basis of physical or mental disability.
For information about filing a complaint, please see www.dot.gov...


Regards,

Epilepsy Foundation National Office
8301 Professional Place
Landover, Maryland 20785-2238
1.800.332.1000
www.epilepsy.com

edit on Tue Nov 4 2014 by DontTreadOnMe because: personal info removed



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 08:53 AM
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Though I agree that I should have perhaps let them know I have a seizure disorder when I check into the airport that day....I normally do not do so because I rarely have seizures! People don't tell the check in folks that they have high blood pressure and are a stroke risk.....they don't tell them they have diabetes or bipolar or a myriad of other disorders that can suddenly pop up and cause symptoms......so I was pretty angry when I got the email from the paralegal essentially sating it was MY fault I was thrown fro the plane......

what are ya'lls thoughts
edit on 11/4/2014 by Cornczech because: dork



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 09:00 AM
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That sounds awful and I'm so sorry it happened, and it sounds like that drunken women is the one who needed to be removed, but something jumped out at me, I guess because I'm blonde, but what in the world does the woman's hair color have to do with anything?



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 09:04 AM
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a reply to: ladyinwaiting

In the letter to the United representative, I was trying to differentiate between the two stewardesses that were "called to the scene" so to speak....

nothing meant by it at all....the blonde was descriptive of the woman who TRIED to help vs the one who drug me from the plane screaming for my husband......



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 09:25 AM
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a reply to: Cornczech

My opinion - and this is only my opinion, so for what it's worth (not much) - I think there is some blame for pretty much everyone involved here.

I DON'T think the airline was justified in throwing you off the plane. I DO think that however rare your seizures are, you should always plan for the worst and hope for the best, i.e., you should make sure before you ever get to the airport that you and your husband will be seated together. If that means not being able to take advantage of vouchers, so be it. If it means not being able to be on the ideal flight for your plans, so be it.

I think the drunk woman you sat next to was a troll, but I can see what the Epilepsy Foundation is saying. You should never ask a stranger up front to assist you in case you get into trouble. For one thing, you can't trust them to do the responsible thing, and for another, it isn't fair to put them in a situation that makes them feel responsible for you. If I had been the one sitting next to you, I would gladly agree to help you in any way I could, but I would be totally stressed out the whole trip, waiting to see if you are going to have a seizure (and wondering if I could handle it). I already don't like to fly, so more stress on top of stress... yikes.

In my opinion, the drunk woman should have been thrown off the plane. I abhor drunk people on planes. If it were up to me, everyone should have to take a breathalyzer test and not be allowed on the plane if they have a certain amount of alcohol in their system, and there should be a 2-drink maximum on the plane - but that's just me.



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 09:40 AM
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Kaylaluv:

Man...great response. Though I am 97.4% emotional about this situation...you're completely correct.....I probably SHOULD always make sure my husband and I sit together.....even if it means not flying on a particular flight......(I just HATE to be considered "handicapped"). My husband and I normally get to sit together...no matter what...this had been the very first time in 16 years being together that we didn't get to sit together....even on the flight TO PR, the staff found a way to have us sit across from one another on an over booked flight......

We DID make it back home the next day....our luggage was NOT stolen at O'Hare, (despite my great fear of it being stolen), and we got to spend another day in Old San Juan....and did n't get a mosquito-borne disease in spite of being bitten over 20 times each.....

but I 100% feel that United handled the situation incorrectly.....I was humiliated in front of hundreds of people....not the inebriated woman......and it could have turned into a MUCH WORSE problem had my husband not known I was thrown off the flight and I was stranded in Puerto Rico....unfortunately.....after a seizure my normally emotional self becomes almost insanely over emotional....I would have ended up in a Puerto Rican nut ward!

Anyhow...GREAT logic in your response......
edit on 11/4/2014 by Cornczech because: still have sloppy fingers

edit on 11/4/2014 by Cornczech because: (no reason given)

edit on 11/4/2014 by Cornczech because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 10:09 AM
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Good for sharing here, hope something comes of it, more attention. I feel their reception against you was wrong. Especially in that condition that arose could have made it worse. Claiming it's your fault sounds like they are not being fair. A possible attention to push aside responsibility for how they handle people.

Apparently then now days these companies are just staying with, with the Ebola hysteria going on, even a slight medical condition will warrant a warning to the airlines, a bracelet, etc? I would have told them about the condition to see if I could sit next to my husband, as you mention you couldn't get a seat near him, that it could help thwart a seizure coming on when you're more comforted by loved one. Though can understand the time constraint involved in flying, and pressing potential emotional measures involved trying to explain such especially in a busy place where they are just trying to move people along.
edit on 4-11-2014 by dreamingawake because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 10:32 AM
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Happy belated birthday!!! ...The only liability I see is if The airline left you on the tarmac or gate without any medical personnel to help you . The stewardess confirmed you have seizes, and in my opinion leaving you without any care or medics to follow up is a liability .......BUT....I do believe this could have all been avoided if You had alerted the stewardess, or asked the stewardess when you boarded the plane if anyone would swap seats because of your medical issue.... they would have asked people to do that. There are always people on planes willing to move to help people sit beside each other. ...Also, you could have closed your window shade to cut down on the heat to make yourself more comfortable....and always be aware that the person sitting next to you could steal your wallet out of your pocket book when your not paying attention.Never ask a stranger to be responsible for you.....just because they're sitting on a Plane next to you doesn't mean they're a GOOD person.....and yes, you had a seizure on the plane, .....and because you were having a medical issue, the airlines has the right to remove you for your health and safety. They are not doctors and can not risk you having a bigger seizure while in flight....and honestly, the fact that you were hysterically crying and shaking (and I understand why!) makes you a flight risk.... I'm not trying to be mean , but, Unfortunately ,...it does.... Please note; I feel for you, you had a traumatic birthday,and flight experience. I hope the next time you fly you handle things differently.....hell I'd milk it for all it's worth....every time you get on a plane make it known you have seizures and maybe the stewardess will pamper you!!! You board early, exit early, get water quicker, etc...And....Karma will get that drunk lady.



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 10:44 AM
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originally posted by: kaylaluv
a reply to: Cornczech

My opinion - and this is only my opinion, so for what it's worth (not much) - I think there is some blame for pretty much everyone involved here.

I DON'T think the airline was justified in throwing you off the plane. I DO think that however rare your seizures are, you should always plan for the worst and hope for the best, i.e., you should make sure before you ever get to the airport that you and your husband will be seated together. If that means not being able to take advantage of vouchers, so be it. If it means not being able to be on the ideal flight for your plans, so be it.

I think the drunk woman you sat next to was a troll, but I can see what the Epilepsy Foundation is saying. You should never ask a stranger up front to assist you in case you get into trouble. For one thing, you can't trust them to do the responsible thing, and for another, it isn't fair to put them in a situation that makes them feel responsible for you. If I had been the one sitting next to you, I would gladly agree to help you in any way I could, but I would be totally stressed out the whole trip, waiting to see if you are going to have a seizure (and wondering if I could handle it). I already don't like to fly, so more stress on top of stress... yikes.

In my opinion, the drunk woman should have been thrown off the plane. I abhor drunk people on planes. If it were up to me, everyone should have to take a breathalyzer test and not be allowed on the plane if they have a certain amount of alcohol in their system, and there should be a 2-drink maximum on the plane - but that's just me.


I would have to agree with what you said.

I do feel sorry for Cornczech, though. If the story is as told, it sounds like a raw deal. I've helped other passengers on a few occasions and every aircraft does carry an aid kit that includes an IV and emergency medications that would help a seizure. I had one case where a lady passed out and I used their kit to place an IV, give fluids, and treat her symptoms until the plane landed emergently. Chances are that there is a doc or EMT on board so if you have issues like that again, let the stewardess know first and suggest she ask around if there is a medical person available to help you.



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 11:14 AM
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Speaking from experience (my son has a seizure disorder and a flight once turned around to return him to the airport following an on-board seizure), I have to say that I agree with what Kaylaluv said. It is an unfortunate truth that epilepsy is misunderstood by many people and that it creates anxiety for folks when they're suddenly confronted with it.

From a business standpoint, all the airline was thinking of was reducing/eliminating risk. If I was their attorney, I might not advise leaving a medically compromised individual on the tarmac, but that's a whole other ball of wax. Absence seizures (petit mal) as you mentioned, can be mistaken for many things and missed entirely. When my son has them, it often just looks like he "checks out" for a moment, as if he's daydreaming. It might be possible that some of the airline employees didn't fully grasp what was going on -- they just saw a passenger in a heated argument and another passenger saying that they didn't feel safe with you on board. So, they took the path of least risk to them. Was it 100% right? No, not really.

I'm very sorry that you had to go through this situation. But, I can also see the Epilepsy Foundation's point of view and agree that it's unfair to burden a fellow passenger with something that might frighten them. It simply bites that people are fearful and misinformed about seizure disorders, but unfortunately, we just have to deal with the reality of this mindset in the best way we can.

I hope the best for you, and that someday they'll find a real cure.

- Grace



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 11:19 AM
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That is awful
Sorry that you had to go through all of that.
I have a family member that has epilepsy and I can only imagine how I would feel if that happened to him too.

I don't think that the OP was making the other passengers responsible for her. She said that she told them that she may need help getting a flight attendant IF a seizure happened. If the intoxicated twit next to her simply said "ok" I think a lot of this could have been avoided. I am surprised that the Epilepsy Foundation put the blame on you. If you had to be removed from the airplane, I think that the intoxicated one should have gone too. She'll get her own karma.



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 03:08 PM
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a reply to: Cornczech

I see. Thanks for clearing that up. I can't believe people get so bent out of shape over a seizure. I'm really shocked. Don't they know what they are? I mean, sometimes they can look pretty scary, but certainly are harmless to the observer. Crazy stuff!



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: Cornczech

You could go to the United Airlines terminal holding a sign that says: "United Airlines" caused me to have a seizure. And then hand out a piece of paper explaining how they did that.

You keep doing that once a month until they offer an apology and a settlement offer for the cost of the plane tickets plus another $500.00. If I lived in PR I would join you. This way I think would be more productive than suing.

I've totally change my post around because my original thought was "sue" but my revised thought is to protest.
edit on 4-11-2014 by wayforward because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 4 2014 @ 03:45 PM
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a reply to: Cornczech

The way I see that letter, is that they are saying you might have a legal case against United Airlines. The letter is telling you how to avoid the problem in the future, and in that regard the letter is right.

Next time someone is rude on the plane, maybe it would be better to leave the seat and get a stewardess immediately to report the rude behavior. Because you asked someone to stop yelling and screaming and they did not stop screaming, they are guilty of causing the seizure. The airline is probably also responsible because their handling made your health worse instead of better.




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