Khalid Adkins was just trying to get home from the Dominican Republic.
But before the Denver man's flight left, family members told the media and later wrote on a fundraising site, he sweated violently and vomited in the bathroom. The airline made him leave, and he went to the hospital, the family said.
The loved ones tried to raise $ 20,000 for a medical evacuation, but Adkins died on Tuesday for unknown reasons and became the ninth American citizen to die in the Dominican Republic this year under circumstances that families are asking. Now his family is using donations to bring his body home.
It was not clear which airline Adkins flies, and various carriers also did not respond to questions from the Washington Post or said they could not comment for privacy reasons. But the case sheds light on the power that airlines use to determine who can and cannot fly.
"It's all up to the captain on board the plane," said Charlie Leocha, chairman and co-founder of Travelers United, a consumer-telling organization.
He says travelers are facing a royal room: arises ill and does not risk flying or delaying a flight due to illness and paying a penalty. He ran into this situation this year when he was diagnosed with pneumonia before flying back to the US from Spain. For a few extra days, it would have been so expensive that he ended up fleeing ill.
Travelers who are very ill still have to try to change their flight, he says, because the airline's staff may be able to make an exception to charge extra fees ̵
The World Health Organization says the airlines have the right to refuse to carry passengers with conditions that can exacerbate or have serious consequences during the flight. "
The WTO states that carriers must have access to their medical department or adviser if: a passenger's health can pose a danger for the security plane; a passenger's health will adversely affect other passengers or crew members a passenger may need medical assistance during the flight or if a passenger's condition may be aggravated by the flight.
Allen Parmet, a Kansas City physician who served as medical director of TWA, says that although the captain has the power to decide to refuse to transport anyone, most airlines have medical consultants they can call in real time to assess if anyone is too sick to fly.
"The principle is that we do not transport people who are too ill to travel because their illness or their condition threatens either their own safety or the health and safety of others," he says.
Parmet, an aviation medical consultant and instructor at the University of Southern California's aviation security program, says he has only experienced six or more cases where someone was not allowed to fly because of illness in his 12 years at TWA .
"If you're a threat to your own health or to others' health and safety, don't be on a plane," he says. "It's not an ambulance; it's a bus."
Most airlines say that travelers with infectious diseases that could spread to other passengers can be denied; Health officials have recently warned people who believed to be infected with measles that they could be prevented from flying. In addition, some airlines have a warning about their right to keep someone from flying in case of illness – even if they do not spell out how ill a person should be for it to happen.
In his transport contract, for example, American Airlines warns: "If your physical or mental state is such that you, in the sole opinion of the United States, are made or likely unable to understand or observe safety instructions without the assistance of an accompanying person, American refuses to transport you. "
Delta says it can refuse to transport or remove seriously ill passengers unless they give a doctor's written permission to fly.
While Leocha, Consumer Speaking, says he does not hear many cases of sick people forced from airplanes, the possibility is real enough that travelers should consider travel insurance with a medical evacuation plan, "because airlines are not known to be nice about the."
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