Dragonair Hauls Rami off the Plane
Rami Rabby is famous in the American blind community as the first blind foreign service officer working for the US State Department. It wasn't easy for him: he had to sue them because they wouldn't hire him even though he was highly qualified.
It might come as no surprise that Rami is attuned to discriminatory practices and willing to stand up for himself. Rami had been assigned a window seat even though he wanted to sit on the aisle like your typical frequent flier. So, he asked to switch seats with Jimmy Young (son of Hadley School's CEO, Chuck Young).
This caused some consternation among the airline staff. Apparently, they have a little manual that says blind people have to sit in a window seat. So, they asked Rami to move, claiming this was standard operating procedure (which it isn't, since we'd all travelled around the world as blind people or with blind people and this was a new one). They tried about ten times and about ten different ways. Rami's basic answer was that it didn't make sense to him and that they should explain why there was such a policy. They tried to pressure him by telling him he was delaying the flight, and Rami said that he was unembarrassable.
Gradually, more and more folks came onto the plane. Local airline managers, plainclothes and uniformed police, etc. The pilot said it was a regulation of the local aviation regulator (unclear if he meant Hong Kong or China). I asked if they had placed all of the Paralympic athletes to sit in window seats, but didn't get an answer.
Finally, the captain decided to call in the police and have Rami hauled off the plane. I was busy taking pictures, and my companions thought I was nuts. Of course, I felt Rami was taking a much bigger risk!
Rami had obviously studied nonviolent resistance. He never raised his voice, but didn't cooperate with being hauled away. And, our plane got going almost an hour late.
Of course, we were worried about Rami being stuck in Hong Kong as we jetted off to Fuzhou. But, Rami was on a flight two hours later on China Eastern Airlines, which apparently doesn't have the same rulebook as Dragonair did! So, it seems to be just one airline's discriminatory practice in its zeal. This issue is probably related to the exit row seating requirement in the U.S. that keeps children and people with disabilities from sitting in an exit row (which one major blind organization fought unsuccessfully ten years back). But, this wasn't an exit row. So, it wasn't clear if they simply wanted disabled people out of the way in case of an emergency or what the reasoning was. I had to admire Rami for his willingness to stand up for disability rights.