Old Feb 18, 2019, 5:49 PM
BurnedByAA BurnedByAA is offline
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: USA
Posts: 1
Exclamation Burned By AA - 2nd Degree In-Flight Burn

December 3, 2018. After a beautiful cruise to Cuba my family and I were returning home to the Philadelphia area on American Airlines flight 376 on-board a Boeing 767-300. We upgraded our seats to the Main Cabin Extra area to enjoy the few extra inches of knee room. At 6'2", the typical plane seat and proximity to the seat in front on AA is a challenge.

The plane took a while to load and then we sat idol for a bit waiting for takeoff. The overhead lights were casting a glare on my iPhone. I looked at the lights overhead. There were no buttons, warnings or instructions. So, like in my car, I assumed that you could just push the light cover to turn it off. As I touched the light cover, I could actually hear a sizzle sound before I jerked my hand away. It felt like I was momentarily stuck to the light.

It probably took less than a second. &#$%. I was burned.

The pain was searing. It persisted. I could see right away that there was a circle of flattened fingerprint on the tip of my finger. The hot light burned off part of my fingerprint! WTF? My eyes welled up with tears. It took me a moment to compose myself. How the heck could this happen? Who puts lights so hot they can cause this kind of injury in easy reach without a warning? A blister started to form. My finger throbbed.

A short time later a flight attendant came by with a drink cart. I soaked my finger in ice water and took some ibuprofen.

I got to looking around. Just an inch in front of the elbow end of the armrest, completely hidden by my own arm is a little control panel. The buttons were so beaten up that you couldn't tell one from the other but after some trial and error I was able to determine that the light controls were there. It felt like someone had played a bad joke on me.

I'm really not much of a complainer. In fact, I wasn't going to say anything on the plane at all. I know that I didn't die, lose a limb or suffer permanent disability. But then I started to think more about how many people must have been injured by those stupid lights. What if a kid was sitting there? And, I wondered how many people had gone home quietly blistered and suffering because of unlabeled dangerously hot lights and hidden control panels.

On the way off the plane, I stepped aside of the mass of people behind me, into the flight attendant's first class kitchen area. A smiling AA flight attendant was there to greet me. I said I felt compelled to report that I'd been injured by the hot light and that it actually caused a blister and seared off part of my fingerprint. She replied, "Yes, the lights are very hot. They're not so hot on the newer planes." Her smile never wavered as she dismissed me without asking for my name or seat number.

Dumbfounded, I de-boarded. She knew! I was just another passenger burned by AA's lights. How many people before me suffered the same injury? How many does it take for AA to take action to prevent similar injuries?

I went from victim to angry and frustrated in that one moment.

December 4, 2018. The day after my flight, I sent off a note to American Airlines. At this point I wasn't looking for anything except some acknowledgement, human compassion, and to make them aware of the obvious dangerous condition on-board their planes. One that could be easily addressed in order to avoid future injuries.

What I got in response at first was an auto-response acknowledging my email. Then later a form letter stating, "... have sent your correspondence to personnel in our Risk Management Department."

No apology. No concern. No one asked which light caused my injury so that they could look into it. Only a one sentence notice that they've forwarded my letter to their attorneys.

Again, WTF?

I waited. Nearly a month. Finally, January 7, 2019 I wrote yet another letter, again demanding their attention.

Excerpt Follows:
American Airlines Risk Management:

It’s been over a month without the courtesy of a reply from American Airlines (AA).

As of today, over a month from the date of injury, the skin from my fingertip continues to slough off. I have paresthesia (odd sensations) and hyperesthesia (hyper sensitivity) where I suffered 2nd degree burn at the tip of my dominate index finger from a dangerously hot overhead light an AA plane.

An attached photograph demonstrates, soon after the incident, that part of my fingerprint was burnt off and that the area immediately blistered. My finger has remained exquisitely tender and continues to interfere with my typical daily activities.

The facts surrounding my wholly avoidable injury, to me, are very clear. Just as you shouldn’t light the inside of your plane with open flame torches because of the very obvious hazard, you shouldn’t have such a hot surface within reach of a passenger who can suffer a serious burn if they purposefully or inadvertently touch it. Further, AA was fully aware of the hazard to passengers, given the indifferent but insightful response of the AA flight attendant when I made her aware of my injury.


In response, I was contacted by customer service. She offered $150 to close out the file. I remain insulted. I don't want to be paid to go away. I want AA to fix the damn lights. And, yes, I want them to pay for the month I couldn't use a computer mouse, put on surgical gloves or preform many of my usual work and life activities.

AA has got to fix the lights. Please see my lighting post.

The customer service representative went on to say (by phone and email) that AA Risk Management wouldn't even review the case unless I immediately sought out medical care. I explained for her that I've practiced emergency medicine for the last twenty-five years. I know how to treat a burn. The photographs should be all the proof they need. Or, they can go touch the light cover for themselves. She followed her script, repeatedly, no matter how silly and wouldn't budge on their requirement for redundant medical attention.


I saw my PCP. He evaluated my healing burn and wrote a report. I paid out of pocket for my medical evaluation and sent AA a copy of the report. They haven't offered to pay for this needless evaluation.

As of today, 2/18/2019, another six+ weeks has lapsed. Nothing from AA. No calls. No emails.

I've begun contacting Senators on the Aviation Subcommittee. Tomorrow I'll start contacting the members of congress on their Aviation Subcommittee. I'll continue to wait to hear from AA Customer Service or their lawyers.

Learn much more at burnedbyaa.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg sm finger.jpg (97.3 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg sm airline.jpg (91.0 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg sm lights.jpg (83.3 KB, 3 views)
airplane, american, burn, injury, lights

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