A San Francisco man aboard an Asiana Airlines flight claims he was discriminated against and forced to vacate his seat because of his prosthetic leg. During the confrontation, a flight attendant allegedly told the passenger, Tim Seward, that he’s “not a normal person.” Seward captured some of the exchange on video.
Seward was traveling from China to South Korea Sunday and reportedly purchased a seat in the exit row near the front of the aircraft, according to NBC reported Monday. But he was soon asked to move by an airline agent, who was concerned that he would not be able to perform the same actions required of the seat as an able-bodied person.
“It's not safe,” an airline representative allegedly told Seward during an exchange that was not captured on video. “You're not a normal person. It's for the safety of the passengers.”
Seward, who reportedly paid extra for the seat, said a female agent had approached him before the incident to ask if he could perform the necessary function required of the emergency row. Seward said he could. He was then approached by a different airline agent, at which point Seward began filming.
The video, seen above, seems to begin after the airline already asked him to move. Seward then asks the Asiana Airlines agent why he is being asked to change seats. He shows the man his prosthetic.
“I’m not saying you’re disabled,” the agent says. In response to Seward’s questions about why he’s being moved, the agent says, “I cannot prove your leg is functional. If you want to show me, maybe you can run or jump.”
In a separate interview with ABC News Sunday, Seward said he was “threatened” that if didn’t move they’d kick him off the flight. “Personally I feel like it wasn't right to have someone determine for me my physical ability and I think that airline should understand that that is wrong and they discriminated against someone,” he added.
As ABC pointed out, the Federal Aviation Administration’s website clearly states that “physical ability” to perform the necessary duties required of exit row seats are used to determine whether a person with a prosthetic can sit there — not the prosthetic alone.
“If a passenger with a prosthesis is being evaluated for assignment to an exit seat, the presence of the prosthesis would not be the determinant for being able to meet the criteria but rather the physical ability to perform the exit seat duties,” reads the FAA website.
Seward told NBC that he doesn’t blame the airline but called the event “pretty embarrassing.” He lost his leg to cancer when he was 11 years old, but he is extremely actively. “For anyone to judge me based on my prosthetic alone is absolutely insane,” he told NBC.
Asiana Airlines did not immediately return International Business Times’ request for comment.