On Memorial Day, an Afghanistan veteran aboard an Alaska Airlines flight was reportedly told he had to give up his exit row seat because he had a prosthetic leg.
The decorated vet, Adam Popp, was wearing shorts, which displayed his prosthetic.
Popp was en route from Seattle to Regan National Airport when the flight attendant reportedly told him that he would have to change seats.
“I asked [the flight attendant] what the problem was. He said, ‘You are wearing a prosthetic, you can’t sit in the exit row,'" Popp recounted.
After checking the company’s flight manual, the flight attendent allegedly continued to insist that Popp change seats. Popp added that the attendant even threatened to have security remove him from the plane if he refused to comply.
Popp said that he has had the prosthetic since 2007, when he was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
The veteran has said that he is confident in his ability to perform exit row duties. In fact, he was returning home after having completed a 94-mile adventure race with other wounded veterans.
Furthermore, on the first leg of his flight, from Bellingham, Washington to Seattle, he had flown in the exit row of an Alaska Airlines flight without any trouble.
“That flight attendant was stuck on that one piece of gear,” Popp said. “That’s the only thing he saw…He didn’t see me as a person. He didn’t see me as [having] the ability to do the things they require.”
The Disabled American Veterans Association has been vocal in expressing disproval over the way Popp was treated. The association noted that passengers with prosthetics “must be assessed in a nondiscriminatory manner when determining seat selection.”
Contrary to the flight attendant’s orders, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations from January 2014 state that “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.”
On Friday, Alaska Airlines issued an apology to Popp, in which the airline noted that “Alaska has received conflicting guidance from the FAA on emergency exit row seating regulations.”
The Alaska Airlines representative added that the company was “working with the FAA to clarify which policy we must follow.”
Popp is now awaiting a letter of explanation from the airline, as well as a $200 flight coupon.