Olympic Airways v. Husain, 540 U.S. 644, 4 (2004)

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Cite as: 540 U. S. 644 (2004)

Opinion of the Court

flights. Because Dr. Hanson had suffered from asthma and was sensitive to secondhand smoke, respondent requested and obtained seats away from the smoking section. Dr. Hanson experienced no problems on the flights to Cairo.

For the return flights, Dr. Hanson and respondent arrived early at the Cairo airport in order to request nonsmoking seats. Respondent showed the check-in agent a physician's letter explaining that Dr. Hanson "has [a] history of recurrent anaphylactic reactions," App. 81, and asked the agent to ensure that their seats were in the nonsmoking section. The flight to Athens was uneventful.

After boarding the plane for the flight to San Francisco, Dr. Hanson and respondent discovered that their seats were located only three rows in front of the economy-class smoking section. Respondent advised Maria Leptourgou, a flight attendant for petitioner, that Dr. Hanson could not sit in a smoking area, and said, " 'You have to move him.' " 116 F. Supp. 2d 1121, 1125 (ND Cal. 2000). The flight attendant told her to " 'have a seat.' " Ibid. After all the passengers had boarded but prior to takeoff, respondent again asked Ms. Leptourgou to move Dr. Hanson, explaining that he was " 'allergic to smoke.' " Ibid. Ms. Leptourgou replied that she could not reseat Dr. Hanson because the plane was " 'totally full' " and she was "too busy" to help. Ibid.

Shortly after takeoff, passengers in the smoking section began to smoke, and Dr. Hanson was soon surrounded by ambient cigarette smoke. Respondent spoke with Ms. Leptourgou a third time, stating, " 'You have to move my husband from here.' " Id., at 1126. Ms. Leptourgou again refused, stating that the plane was full. Ms. Leptourgou told respondent that Dr. Hanson could switch seats with another passenger, but that respondent would have to ask other passengers herself, without the flight crew's assistance. Respondent told Ms. Leptourgou that Dr. Hanson had to move even if the only available seat was in the cockpit or in


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