Continental Airlines is going to have to do some mighty fast
talking to contain the damage from DOT accusations that the carrier
discriminates against disabled passengers.
The complaints, filed with the government in 1997 and 1998,
involve wheelchair-dependent passengers who say they received
inadequate assistance when flying Continental. That's bad enough.
But apparently the DOT has paperwork filed directly with the
airline from more than 100 incidents passengers in wheelchairs or
in need of wheelchairs who either were stranded or handled
negligently by Continental employees.
The DOT is seeking a $250,000 penalty against the airline.
That's chump change for a carrier like Continental. The real
concern here is perception. With constantly increasing competition
in the skies and ever-escalating dissatisfaction among passengers,
airlines are going to be scrapping for market share as never
before. And as persons with disabilities continue to make up a
larger percentage of the traveling public, their clout will be
Continental is vociferously declaiming its innocence in this
matter. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out.