JetBlue Airways appears to have placed a disabled man suing seven airlines over their discriminatory mask policies on its no-fly list.
A JetBlue supervisor said Wednesday night Lucas Wall’s ticket to fly from Orlando, Florida, home to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25 was canceled by the carrier’s “corporate security system.”
Wall, 44, has been stuck in Florida since early June when Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration refused to grant him a mask exemption at Orlando International Airport.
He sued the federal government on June 7 to strike down the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate. A week later, he filed a lawsuit against Southwest, JetBlue, and five other airlines for their illegal discriminatory mask policies that prohibit those who are medically unable to cover their faces from flying.
Wall booked his ticket Tuesday, Oct. 12, and requested a mask exemption from JetBlue. Wall was shocked to receive an e-mail Wednesday, Oct. 13, that his ticket was canceled – with no explanation.
During a phone call late Wednesday, a JetBlue supervisor told Wall the security department voided his booking.
“JetBlue’s action banning me from flying because I sued over its unlawful mask policy constitutes illegal retaliation for asserting my rights under the Air Carrier Access Act to be free from discrimination,” said Wall, who can’t wear a mask because he suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Obstructing his sources of oxygen causes a panic attack, hyperventilation, and respiratory distress. “No disabled person asserting his rights under federal law by submitting a mask exemption request should be placed on a no-fly list. JetBlue will have to answer for its shameful behavior in court.”
A dozen other flyers joined Wall’s class-action suit against the seven airlines on Sept. 13, charging them with conspiracy to interfere with civil rights by barring anyone who can’t wear a mask from flying.
The amended complaint also charges the carriers with 29 other counts including infringing on the constitutional right to travel interstate and internationally; reckless endangerment; as well as breaking numerous provisions of the Air Carrier Access Act, Rehabilitation Act, and international treaties.
The case is being litigated in the U.S. District Court in Orlando.
“The ticket was canceled by actually our corporate security system,” a JetBlue customer-service supervisor told Wall late Wednesday. “The only thing I see here is it says cancel and refund back to original form of payment as per security, and there is a note from our security department – it does say do not rebook. So we’re not able to rebook this reservation.”
Uriel Marcus, one of the 12 plaintiffs who joined the case a month ago, condemns JetBlue for canceling Wall’s ticket and apparently placing him on a no-fly list because he sued the airline.
“JetBlue has blatantly violated federal law prohibiting air carriers from retaliating against disabled passengers,” said Marcus, a California man residing in Jerusalem, Israel. “JetBlue has sent a chilling message to the disabled: If you sue us in pursuit of legitimate legal claims, we will forbid you from flying. It violates public policy and is unscrupulous. This is an affront to all disabled Americans,” said Marcus.
U.S. Department of Transportation regulations prohibits an airline from taking “any adverse action against an individual (e.g., refusing to provide transportation) because the individual asserts, on his or her own behalf or through or on behalf of others, rights protected by … the Air Carrier Access Act.”
Wall filed a complaint today (Oct. 14) with DOT. Plaintiffs plan to ask the court for an injunction later this week ordering JetBlue to immediately remove Wall from its no-fly list and to forbid all airline defendants from banning any others involved in the case.
“JetBlue shows it will use all methods to silence customers unable to wear masks,” said plaintiff Tony Eades of Warsaw, Missouri, an Iraq war veteran who suffers from PTSD and other ailments. “But JetBlue can’t quiet the disabled minority Lucas represents. He has not done anything unruly; all he asked for is a mask exemption, which is allowed under the illegal Federal Transportation Mask Mandate. JetBlue apparently sees flying as a travel option, not a necessity – whereas we assert it as our legal right to fly without discrimination.”
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