Airline attacked on Facebook for treatment of passenger

An Alaska Airlines passenger either has Parkinson's or is drunk. However, once an Oregon man writes a Facebook post criticizing Alaska Airlines, the airline comes under attack.

Alaska Airlines Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk

It's not good when someone is moved to go onto Facebook to call you "the worst of humanity."

It's most definitely not good when you are an airline and you're supposed to make humanity sit back, relax, and enjoy the cramped conditions and that slightly smelly thing known as food.

Yet Alaska Airlines is this morning faced with having its name being brought into disrepute, with the evidence still a little unclear.

As the Associated Press reports it, Cameron Clark, an Oregon concert promoter was so incensed by what he believes was ill treatment of a disabled passenger by Alaska Airlines personnel that he had to do something about it.

So he posted on Facebook. The post began: "i witnessed today, what i consider to be the worst of humanity."

The passenger -- who allegedly told Clark he had late-stage Parkinson's -- was trying to fly to Bellingham, Wash., to see his daughter. In Clark's version, the airline staff ignored him, failed to assist, and didn't let him on the plane.

The airline's version is slightly different. In an update on its Facebook page, the airline offered: "In this case, our customer arrived late and didn't request our assistance or let us know of any disabilities. He was also exhibiting signs of inebriation and smelled of alcohol."

This doesn't seem to have assuaged posters to Alaska Airlines' Facebook page.

Cameron Clark/Facebook Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

For example, Christie Gower offered: "Seriously. Last time I checked, alcohol is legal for those over 21yrs in ALL states. Perhaps if this fellow was helped out the first time, he wouldn't have had a couple to calm his nerves for his second attempt at getting on the plane. SHAME."

Mark McAdams was even more incensed: "So, your people don't know the difference between someone with Parkinson's and someone who is drunk? Do you also know when to service a jackscrew or not? Tearing up my Alaska FF card now. YOU..... have a nice day!"

The airline says it refunded the passenger's ticket and flew him to another destination, where he met up with his daughter.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Paul McElroy told the AP: "We are prohibited from asking customers if they have a disability, and the customer never told us that he had Parkinson's, or any disability for that matter. He did appear disoriented to us, and later, when we smelled alcohol, we were led to the conclusion he was intoxicated."

Clark, though, is unbowed.

On his Facebook page, he posted:

this is truly outrageous! i stood next to the man, and spoke face to face with him-- much closer in proximity than any of Alaska's folks across a counter. i smelled nothing. isn't it conceivable that someone absolutely mistook his parkinson's behavior for that of someone being impaired? you folks are starting to make a bed that will be very difficult to climb out of... Alaska Airlines you have hit an all time low with this post. tragic.

Those looking in are now left to decide whom to believe. Was the man -- whom Clark referred to as "Brent" -- drunk or did he have Parkinson's?

Perhaps, in this case, only Brent himself can offer all the facts. What is certain is that when a bystander posts with such intensity about Alaska Airlines' service, the airline doesn't look good at all.

 

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