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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 10/ 5/2010

Blind Va. man barred from Dubai flight

By Washington Post editors

A blind Arlington man says he was stopped from getting on a flight in Dubai on Tuesday because of his disability — a decision the government-run airline insists was a mistake it regrets.

Zuhair Mahmoud told the Associated Press he ran into problems when he went to check in for a 10:10 a.m. flight on FlyDubai to Amman. He was planning a brief stay in the Jordanian capital before heading back to the United States.

"They looked at me and said: 'Well, we can't take you. ... You're traveling alone,'" he recalled.

Mahmoud protested and asked employees to check with their superiors. He said he was told that there was nothing they could do because it was airline policy not to allow a blind traveler onboard unaccompanied.

"I was mad. ... I couldn't believe it," the 37-year-old information technology specialist said. "I tried to reason with them, but I just got a single cold answer."

He left the airport and went to stay at a brother's house in Dubai until he could catch another flight out.

The airline doesn't dispute Mr. Mahmoud's account.

Its chief executive apologized for the incident and said the carrier does not discriminate against blind passengers or others with special needs. FlyDubai also promised to rebook Mahmoud on another flight that's convenient for him and offered him a voucher for a free flight to make up for the mishap.

Mahmoud said he is keeping his options open, including possible legal action.

He wants the airline and UAE government regulators to take steps to ensure the same thing doesn't happen to others.

"I'm probably not going to come back to Dubai ever unless I'm assured these sorts of things aren't going to happen anymore," he said. "The real test is how it's handled and how it's reacted to. Mistakes happen all the time. It's how you deal with them that defines who you are."

-- Associated Press

By Washington Post editors  | October 5, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Traffic and Transportation, Virginia  
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Comments

I can understand the airlines point of view. If you ever flown you know that most information you get is visual, from the Arrival/Departure monitors to the gate signs and numbers to baggage claim. How many times have you flown and when connecting to another flight have been told to check the monitors for flight info? A blind person DOES have special needs. I don't know how American airlines handlet this as I have seen blind persons on flights.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | October 5, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Jimof1913 - are you serious? You clearly don't know or interact with many blind people or many other individuals with disabilities, most of whom function as well or better than other people. The gentleman is blind - he clearly flew over to Dubai somehow without the disastrous consequences that you seem to think result from the unthinkable sin of letting a blind person fly unaccompanied. I'd rather fly with my friends with disabilities than many of the idiots who routinely disregard every piece of safety advice given and who also disregard every common courtesy (i.e. oversized carryon bags etc.). Grow up.

Posted by: SabrinaDaddy | October 5, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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