Jet bridges provide a gateway to the world that millions of people every day walk across. While these seemingly innocuous pieces of machinery appear safe, they are in fact some of the most dangerous places travelers or airline workers will traverse in the course of their journey.
These jet bridges pose a very real danger of serious injury or death. The bridge and the stairs on the bridge may become iced over in the wintertime, and the carpet within the bridge can bunch up and become uneven if it becomes soaked with water. Indeed, the older the jet bridge, the greater the likelihood that the flooring surface will become uneven or warped, or that fixtures such as flooring or handrails can become detached. When these poor maintenance or bad weather are present, they can significantly increase the risk of passengers and airline employees suffering a slip and fall accident.
If a jet bridge becomes detached from an airplane, or if the airplane has been misaligned with the bridge, it can create a gap large enough for passengers and aircrew can fall through. If lighting is poor or weather conditions decrease visibility, individuals may not see the gap prior to walking into it. Just last year, Alpatricia Crosby Haith was injured by just such an injury at Chicago’s Midway Airport. The accident occurred when airport workers failed to properly secure the jet bridge to the aircraft, thus leaving a gap which caused considerable injuries to the plaintiff.
Moreover, airline injury lawyers are aware that it is not uncommon for airplanes to crash into jet bridges as they attempt to reach the gate. This occurred earlier this year when the engine of a fully loaded British Airways A-380 crashed into a jet bridge in Miami. While these accidents typically occur at low speeds, jet bridges and aircraft are not designed to withstand the impact forces this can create. Workers standing on the jet bridge or within an aircraft at the time of a collision may be thrown off their feet, or may become crushed between the aircraft and the bridge.
Falls from jet bridges can be fatal, and just last year an airline mechanic was killed in a 14-foot fall from a jet bridge at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport. The worker slipped on the bridges floor and was unable to regain his footing before crashing down onto the concrete surface below.