July 2011

Frontier Airlines

Quadriplegic Passenger Forced off Frontier Airlines Flight

John Morris, a 24-year-old Colorado State University student who is quadriplegic due to a snowboarding accident in 2006 that left him paralyzed, was forced off a Frontier Airlines flight, because the pilot felt it was not safe for him, despite Morris having flown Frontier Airlines from Denver International Airport to Dallas for a family function just two days prior.


Morris is confined to a wheelchair with limited upper body control. When he and his mother, Kathleen Morris, boarded in Dallas for their return home, he was strapped in with a seatbelt extension normally used by larger passengers, the pilot refused to take off until Morris was removed from the plane.

“When a flight attendant saw Morris strapped in, they said they would have to clear it with the captain,” said Kathleen Morris. In the past, Morris had always used airline seat-belt extensions to secure his chest and legs to the seat. This time, however, he was told that Frontier’s equipment could not be used for medical purposes, so other passengers offered their belts to help restrain him.


Airport police were called, and three officers boarded the plane. Although they were sympathetic to the situation, there was nothing they could do. Because Morris did not pose as a threat to the plane or the passengers, this was not a police matter. They advised the  pilot that Morris appeared to be safely restrained, but the pilot refused to examine the restraints himself nor would he take off with Morris on board.

“He cannot fly. I want him off this plane,” the pilot told police. “I felt horrible. I just felt like I didn’t belong. I haven’t felt that bad since the accident,” added Morris.


“The pilot did what he thought was best for the safety of this disabled person and the party, as well as the airplane, there was no wrong done here,” stated Peter Kowalchuk, a spokesman for Frontier. “I don’t believe that his rights were violated. We’re in the process now of conducting an investigation.”

The Department of Transportation’s policy does allow removal for safety reasons. However, the decision must be based on a direct threat analysis. The investigation will determine if the pilot used proper protocol.

Frontier arranged for Morris and his mother to be on the very next flight to Denver, where that pilot welcomed him on board. Morris has retained an attorney and has decided to make it his mission that this does not happen to another passenger.






Study Finds Stress Not a Risk Factor for Multiple Sclerosis


A new study shows that stress is not likely to raise the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Stress has been suspected to play a role in aggravating existing multiple sclerosis, but it has not been established weather stress could increase the risk of developing the disease. Researcher Trond Riise, Ph.D. of the University of Bergen, Norway said, “While we’ve known that stressful life events have been shown to increase the risk of MS episodes, we weren’t certain whether these stressors could actually lead to developing the disease itself.”

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath (the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells); when the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed or stop completely. This causes periodic bouts of muscle pain and weakness. The cause for MS is still unknown; however, the most common theories suggest a virus or genetic defect, as well as environmental factors.

Stress and MS

Researchers studied the relationship between stress and the risk of developing MS in over 237,000 female participants. Each participant gave their level of general stress at both work and home, as well as any physical or sexual abuse in their childhood. Risk factors for MS including age, ethnicity, latitude of birth, body mass at the age of 18, and smoking status had to be taken into consideration.

This rules out stress as a major risk factor for MS,” concluded Riise, who added, “Future research can now focus on repeated and more fine-tuned measures of stress,” to fully exclude stress as a risk factor for the multiple sclerosis.