Horizon Air President Responds to Redmond, Ore., Customer
SEATTLE — Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson apologized to a customer on Facebook today after the man's trip to visit his daughter was interrupted and a fellow traveler recounted the experience on the social media site. After the man missed his flight on Friday, he flew to see his daughter on Saturday.
"First and foremost, we've determined that we could and should have handled this better and I apologize to our passenger on behalf of all of us at Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines," Johnson wrote in his Facebook post. "This experience has reminded us of the importance of assisting passengers with disabilities and making sure every one of them receives the special care they may need. The information we've gathered during our review will certainly improve our efforts going forward."
As part of its review of the incident, Alaska Airlines refunded the passenger's initial ticket, provided a complimentary roundtrip flight for his trip and offered a second roundtrip ticket for him to visit his daughter again at a later date. Horizon Air operates regional flights on behalf of Alaska Airlines.
"We've worked with a variety of disability organizations for years, which has helped us improve our service for travelers with disabilities," said Ray Prentice, Alaska Airlines' director of customer advocacy. "This incident provides another learning opportunity for our employees as well as for travelers with disabilities."
Alaska and Horizon have partnered with Open Doors Organization, an independent disability advocacy group, to review employees' handling of the situation and suggest improvements in the airlines' disability, awareness and sensitivity training. Eric Lipp, Open Doors Organization's executive director, advises passengers with a disability who are traveling to:
- Self-disclose to the airline any assistance you may need before you arrive at the airport. This could include an escort or wheelchair assistance through security, to the gate, and while boarding and exiting the plane.
- Ask the airline if you prefer to have a personal assistant escort you to the gate. Most airlines will issue passes to personal assistants to help passengers with disabilities get to or from the gate area.
- Plan ahead and arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight departs, which allows time to check luggage, obtain wheelchair services, get through security and board the flight.