Cincinnati Anti-Smoking Activists Fault Airport

Delta Air Lines contends a complaint over tobacco smoke at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport falls short of intentional discrimination and should be ignored.

The air carrier, which along with subsidiary Comair handles more than 90 percent of the passengers at the airport, told the U.S. Department of Transportation in papers filed this month that its air carrier certificate should not be revoked.

Delta is disputing complaints filed by two Texas anti-smoking activists, Billy Williams and Patricia Young, who claimed Delta intentionally discriminates against people whose disabilities are aggravated by tobacco smoke.

Only the Hebron airport is named in the complaint.

Delta says it doesn’t set smoking policies at the airport and the Kenton County Airport Board established alternate routes through the airport for those adversely affected by smoke.

Smoking is allowed in restaurants, bars and separately ventilated rooms at the airport and Delta, the airport board and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. agreed to spend $750,000 for separate smoking rooms. Three have opened and five will open by 2001.

Seeping Smoke

Williams, a retired employee of Pan American World Airways, has said the rooms won’t make the airport accessible to people such as himself who have allergies or other illnesses aggravated by tobacco smoke. The rooms won’t always work, and smoke will inevitably seep out, he has said.

Young, a flight attendant for American Airlines, said she avoids flying to the airport and other airports that don’t ban smoking.

Delta also argued that neither Williams nor Young proved they have impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, such as walking, breathing or working.

Young and Williams filed a complaint in September asking the transportation department to revoke Delta’s certificate, which would shut down the airline.