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United Forces Disabled Man to Crawl Off Plane

A disabled flyer says United forced him to crawl off a flight because an aisle-friendly wheelchair was not available.

A wheelchair-bound flyer is speaking out about his recent experience with United Airlines, claiming he was left alone on a plane and made to crawl off his flight when a wheelchair was not available. D’Arcee Neal told NBC Washington he was forced to crawl to the doorway of his aircraft because the airline failed to provide him an aisle chair and someone to help him get off the plane.

Neal was returning home from a conference in San Francisco, where he spoke about accessible transportation, when the incident occurred Tuesday night. He is known for his work earlier this year with rideshare company Uber, aiding the company in becoming more accessible for riders in wheelchairs.

“It’s humiliating,” said Neal. “No one should have to do what I did.”

Neal says that nobody was available to help him get out of his seat upon landing at DCA. When it became clear that nobody was coming, and needing to use the restroom, Neal got up from his chair and begin crawling to the front of the aircraft.

“Half the time, I feel like airlines treat people with disabilities as a secondary concern,” said Neal.

According to the National Disability Rights Network, wheelchair-bound flyers face a growing number of difficulties in U.S. Although the Air Carrier Access Act offers disabled flyers certain protections, advocates claim it is still not enough to create equality in the skies.

“In 2014, there were over 27,500 complaints in reference to things like this, so it’s not uncommon,” said Dara Baldwin, public policy analyst at the National Disability Rights Network. “I hate to say that.”

In a statement to NBC Washington, United said it regrets the delay in providing assistance to Neal.

The incident marks the second time a disabled flyer has cried foul against a Star Alliance airline this month. Last week, a disabled flyer aboard Air Canada claims the airline denied him boarding “for no reason.”

[Photo: NBC Washington]

Comments are Closed.
roadkit October 28, 2015

Nice to see United Corporate sees this worthy of the $300 Cockroach Certificate.

DragonAsh October 28, 2015

Sorry, this story makes no sense, and I think the headline is wildly inaccurate. United didn't 'force' him to crawl 'off the plane'. Here's what the story says: "Neal says that nobody was available to help him get out of his seat upon landing at DCA. When it became clear that nobody was coming, and needing to use the restroom, Neal got up from his chair and begin crawling to the front of the aircraft." The wheelchair was apparently late in getting to the plane and the guy needed to use the bathroom. He wasn't forced - he had to answer nature's call (ok, maybe that is close to being 'forced'. But still...). And he started 'crawling' to the *front of the plane*, not 'off the plane'. If he has to use the bathroom, he's not going to crawl off the plane and then all the way up the boarding ramp - he's going to use the front bathroom. The odds the FAs would all just take off, leaving a passenger alone on the plane is essentially nil - I can, however, imagine one FA staying behind, then running up real quick to check on the status of the wheelchair, at which point the guy probably decided to take the opportunity to move himself to the bathroom, rather than have to ask the (likely female) FA assist him. That scenario sounds a heck of a lot more likely than him being 'forced' to crawl 'off the plane'.

weero October 27, 2015

Vested interest. Professional victim and advocate. The other party does not get show their pov. Story is not corroborated in any form ... not worth the read.

SeamusSA October 27, 2015

According to other sources, the pax never filed a complaint, but was contacted by UA after a FA reported that they WC failed to show. He expressed surprise and noted no other airline had ever contacted him after similarly failing to provide assistance.

jmcbride383 October 27, 2015

No man will crawl before me; he will be carried on my shoulder. Shame falls where it is deserved.