Questionable Passenger Safety Issues

In 2013, US Airways agreed to pay $1.2 million civil penalty under a consent order with the Department of Transportation after the DOT found that the carrier failed to provide adequate wheelchair assistance to disabled passengers in Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina. During the time of the consent order was issued, US Airway was using Primeflight Aviation Services to provide their passengers with wheelchair assistance at Philadelphia International Airport.

Passengers requiring wheelchair assistance flying on airlines that contract with PrimeFlight have alleged injuries while in the care of PrimeFlight. Some examples include:

  • In October, 2015, a passenger traveling from San Diego to Newark on United Airlines was injured in San Diego after a PrimeFlight wheelchair agent allegedly backed up into her, causing her to fall and hit her head. Ms. Zimmerman sued United, who in turn filed a complaint against PrimeFlight.The parties settled the case out of court in July, 2016.
  • In 2012, a passenger needing wheelchair services at Honolulu International Airport sued PrimeFlight claiming that the company’s wheelchair agent’s alleged negligent actions caused him injuries. The passenger alleged that the Primeflight wheelchair agent carried his carry-on luggage while pushing his wheelchair and a second wheelchair down a ramp. According to the complaint, the agent lost control of the passenger’s chair, and as a result, his chair tipped forward causing him to fall onto the ground. The injury allegedly required the passenger to get spinal surgery. PrimeFlight settled the case out of court without admitting any wrongdoing.
  • In 2012, a paraplegic US Airways passenger flying from Richmond, VA to Boston sued the airline and PrimeFlight, alleging that they did not properly secure her into an aisle-chair and that she fell out of the chair, hitting her head and injuring herself. PrimeFlight settled the case out of court in 2013.
  • In January 2010, a passenger sued PrimeFlight, American Airlines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She alleged that, due to PrimeFlight, the airline and the Port’s negligence, reckless behavior and poor maintenance of wheelchairs, she was caused to trip and fall upon exiting her wheelchair, allegedly sustaining severe personal injuries. The case was settled out of court in November, 2011.
  • A woman required wheelchair assistance while flying from Houston to Washington DC in 2009. In the course of providing boarding assistance in Houston, a PrimeFlight employee allegedly pushed her chair at an unsafe speed causing her to fall from the chair when it hit a bump. She sued PrimeFlight, alleging injuries due to PrimeFlight’s negligence that required hospitalization once she arrived in DC. The case was settled out of court in 2012.
  • A 90 year old woman who was flying with her daughter from Philadelphia to Dallas on American Airlines in 2009 brought a lawsuit against PrimeFlight and American after allegedly sustaining injuries while getting into a PrimeFlight wheelchair. The woman alleges that she used a walker to exit her vehicle and fell while attempting to get into the wheelchair which was placed on an incline and not secured. Her fall allegedly required hospitalization and caused permanent injury. Both PrimeFlight and American denied the allegations, and American initiated a third party complaint against the woman’s daughter alleging that it was her negligence that caused the incident. The case was settled out of court in 2010.
  • A retired U.S. Air Force veteran, who is quadriplegic from multiple sclerosis, brought a lawsuit against American Airlines and PrimeFlight regarding a flight from Dallas, Texas to Dayton, Ohio in May 2003. She claims that while being assisted off the plane, she was not adequately strapped into her wheelchair and while being pushed, she tumbled out of the chair and struck the floor and/or seats, causing severe personal injuries including spinal fractures, numerous cuts and serious bruises. The passenger brought a suit against American Airlines and PrimeFlight, both of whom denied all allegations. The case was settled out of court in 2006.
  • A passenger sued American, who in turn sued PrimeFlight, relating to an incident when she was traveling from New York to Chicago in December 2005. She alleged in her complaint that she needed wheelchair assistance because she was unable to walk or stand for long periods of time. She claimed that when boarding the plane, she was told to get out of the wheelchair and walk through the final portion of the jet bridge, at which point she fell. She claims to have suffered serious personal injuries to her back, requiring surgery and aggravation to prior knee injuries. PrimeFlight and American denied all negligence and the case was settled out of court in 2009.