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Does a woman with stage IV breast cancer hoping to die in her Korean homeland belong on the no-fly list? Earlier this week, Seattle-based Northwest Cable News reported that Korean Air had barred Crystal Kim from flying out of Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport over the weekend — even though Kim presented clearance from doctors and was traveling with her daughter. Ms. Kim has rebooked with Delta and is hoping to make the flight today.

Editor’s Note, May 13, 2011, 11:35 a.m.: MSNBC reports that the Kims did indeed fly yesterday, and that Delta upgraded them to first class.

Korean Air technically has the right, as do all air carriers, to deny passengers if they’re determined to be too sick to fly. The airline said it feared Crystal could die onboard and traumatize other passengers.

Here’s the video report from Northwest Cable News:



While Ms. Kim’s sad story may have something of a positive outcome, you may or may not be surprised at who — and what — else has issues getting airborne:

Bulldogs: Delta announced in February that it would no longer carry American, English and French bulldogs. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, it seems that a disproportionate number of these flat-snouted, respiratory-issue-prone canines were dying in flight.

Pregnant Women: Not all policies are the same, but most airlines restrict women in late-stage pregnancy from flying without a note from a doctor, a special examination from an obstetrician, clearance from an airline’s special assistance team or all of the above. There’s often a distinction between flying on domestic and international flights, so check individual policies.

The Contagious or Comatose: While Ms. Kim’s disease was obviously not contagious, there are other ill passengers airlines can bar from flying. Those carrying a contagious disease or other infections — flashing back to 2009, H1N1, for instance — should always check carrier rules before boarding. Not surprisingly, an airline can also bar a passenger from boarding if he or she is comatose; passengers must be able to follow emergency procedures.



– written by Dan Askin

2 Responses to “Cancer Patient Faces Unfriendly Skies”

  1. Tess says:

    Gosh, I see many people in wheelchairs at the airport. I have never seen anybody give them a physical exam nor ask why they are in the wheelchair to determine how sick they are.
    How did Korean Air know that this woman had Stage IV cancer? Is it because of that new TSA screening?
    There could be another passenger onboard who might be a potential heart attack victim. Is there some way that the airlines can determine this?

    This woman had the strength to make it to the airport and sit in a wheelchair.
    As long as she is not a threat to the health, comfort and well-being of other passengers, it seems that something could be worked out. I am glad to hear that another carrier took the risk and allowed her to fly home.

  2. sherri Gates says:

    lease let them go.. I have had cancer and the stress that is passing throught this womans life is creating a larger cancer that her stage 4….Who have we become? She is your mom and your sister, your wife and friend… How you treat others creates your own destiny. When are the philanthropist today?

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