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The missing aisle chair: The error on United Airlines was appalling

October 28, 2015
United Airlines

This kind of article bothered me, A Man With Cerebral Palsy Was Left To Crawl Off A United Plane, because like the article stated, people with disabilities were still being mistreated even though there were laws to prevent it. The sad fact was that D’Arcee Neal was a disability rights activist who just returned from giving a speech. He was right. No one should’ve had to do what he did.

There was a lot of flack about who actually read this article. There were so many negative comments. This blogger wanted to know the whole story so it was read all the way through not just the headlines or the tags. The version in the Huffington Post was correct. Neal was not offered the aisle chair or assistance getting to his chair and had to crawl the length of the plane to his chair at the end of the ramp.

By law, the airline was to assist a person boarding during flight and disembarking the plane. Clearly, United Airlines failed to offer the aisle chair to get him to his wheelchair at the end of the ramp or help him get to the bathroom either. NOWHERE did it say the airline attendants ‘stood around looking stupid‘ either. That was just media hype to get traffic.

My experience with airline travel was not that bad. The worst thing that happened was that my mother was lied to about whether there were stairs getting on the plane. Customer service said there weren’t any stairs. The airline quickly got a burly man from the flight line to carry me on when they were seen. During the second trip, the man treated me like luggage or a very heavy sack of potatoes.

In the second article, United Airlines apologizes after disabled man crawls off flight, courtesy of CNN, readers got a more complete version of the story, not that Huffington Post lied about their version. The mistake with the isle chair was the fault of the airline. It was at the gate and ready, but someone told the flight attendant it was no longer needed and it was removed.

D’Arcee Neal was told to wait but his ‘biological urge’ forced him to crawl off the plane after waiting thirty minutes. The flight attendants were shocked, that was why they stared after him as he crawled away. The flight attendant pushing me through the Atlanta Airport refused to stop for me to use the bathroom. Several restrooms were passed before my drop off at one of the desks. My wait was 45 minutes and a stern lecture from the female staff. She passed three accessible bathrooms herself before stopping to let me use one and take a breath.

United Airlines made these statements:

  1. This experience “doesn’t reflect the level of service we provide to customers with disabilities each day.” The airline said it has a 24-hour disability desk to answer questions and arrange special assistance.
  2. “Our employees — particularly our flight attendants and airport staff — are happy to arrange additional assistance for customers with disabilities on the day of travel,” the airline said.

After the first article was written, neither D’Arcee Neal nor the airline was available for comment, but the since that time, they did contact him to issue their regrets over the incident and $300. Mom said they should have offered him a free flight. Several people wanted Mr. Neal to file a class action lawsuit, which he chose not to do at this time. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t. Mom said he should. The sad fact was that the entire flight industry needed to review the policies for those with special needs and change them because this still happened. It happened to him.

This blogger did not want to sit in one of the first three rows of the plane. Mr. Neal said doing this allowed them to get off faster. To me it made the handicapped an easy target for terrorists. Right now, federal law said that a handicapped person got an aisle seat with a movable armrest anywhere on the plane. People that had service animals or with legs that did not move were given bulkhead seats, which had more leg room.

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