If there is a book on public relations disasters, United Airlines (UAL) will have a chapter of its own. In the latest of a string of allegations, a Rome-bound passenger and his wife have sued the airline for not landing the flight despite him being in a severe medical condition. The complaint adds that the flight crew was not prepared well to handle such a situation and ignored the suggestion of a doctor, who was on board, to divert the flight for faster medical assistance. The family has sought $100,000 as compensation.
According to the allegation, Lewis Christman suffered acute nausea and pain, only two hours into the almost 10-hour journey in May 2016. When he curled up on the floor in a fetal position due to the severe pain, instead of offering palliative care, he was given a business class seat for the rest of the journey. The airline crew did not even get in touch with the ground-based medical team, the lawsuit alleges.
Upon reaching the destination, Christman was initially hospitalized in Rome, and later in the US where he had to undergo surgery to remove his gastric bypass and gallbladder. The victim alleges that the airline was responsible for making his condition worse by delaying medical held.
Emergency landings and flight diversions are tough decisions for airlines as it can invite the ire of other passengers, besides the huge expenses incurred for the same. Only last month, rival American Airlines (AAL) was sued under similar circumstances for wrongful death. According to that suit, a 25-year-old woman died after suffering from an embolism in 2016 as the airline refused to divert, neglecting the recommendation put forth by a doctor who was on the same flight.
Meanwhile, United Airlines has recently seen a notorious streak of horrible public relations. This includes one incident where a passenger was dragged out of an over-booked airliner, and another where a dog died after being stored in the overhead bin.
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