Ensure Tourette’s Does not Prevent People from Flying

Target: David Barger, CEO of JetBlue

Goal: Ensure that employees understand Tourette’s syndrome and do not prevent passengers who suffer from it from flying

Recently, Tourette’s sufferer Michael Doyle was prevented from flying on a JetBlue airline. Doyle’s Tourette’s caused him to say the word ‘bomb’ multiple times while waiting for his flight. Even though he had medical documentation to prove the existence of the syndrome and security officials had allowed him to enter the airport, the jet’s pilot refused to allow him on the flight. Doyle and his friend were forced to miss an event they had planned for two years. Although JetBlue has apologized to Doyle for this incident, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again.

Tourette syndrome sufferers find it hard or impossible to control verbal tics. In Doyle’s case, he was focused on the word ‘bomb’ because of the recent bombing in Boston. He tried to force himself not to say the word, but the stress of this made him repeat the word over 100 times. Doyle says that he passed through the security checkpoints while repeating ‘bomb’, but was able to prove his condition and was not stopped. It was only the JetBlue pilot who forced Doyle to leave his flight.

Even though Doyle carried documentation proving that he suffered from Tourette’s, he was still discriminated against and not allowed to fly due to a medical condition. JetBlue did apologize for the incident and offered a free round-trip ticket to Doyle. However, the company could not guarantee that the incident would not happen again. JetBlue must train their employees to recognize disabilities and not discriminate against those who have them. The round-trip ticket is a gesture of goodwill for Doyle, but it is meaningless if he is again barred from flying. Tell JetBlue to properly train their employees so this does not happen again to Doyle or any other passenger.


Dear Mr. Barger,

Recently, a man was removed from a JetBlue flight because he suffered from Tourette syndrome. Michael Doyle was at the time suffering from a tic that made him repeat the word ‘bomb.’ He had medical documentation proving that he had Tourette’s, which was responsible for the vocal tic, but this documentation was ignored. Security agents at the airport felt Doyle was perfectly safe to fly. It was only the JetBlue pilot who refused to allow Doyle on the plane.

I ask you to prevent this situation from happening again. Although you have apologized to Doyle, he fears flying because you did not guarantee that a repeat of this situation would not happen. Those who deal with disabilities such as Tourette syndrome should not fear to take a vacation. You owe it to Doyle and all your customers to ensure that all employees understand disabilities such as Tourette’s.


[Your Name Here]

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