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United Airlines

United Under Fire for Giving Deaf Celeb A Wheelchair

United Under Fire for Giving Deaf Celeb A Wheelchair
Meg Butler

“Ooh a deaf person, give him a wheelchair.”

Deaf activist and America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco recently took to Twitter to shame United Airlines’ staff for giving him a wheelchair with his name on it. DiMarco, who starred on Cycle 22 of the famous reality show is deaf. He is, however, able to walk and did not request a wheelchair.

“How hearing people associate deaf with the inability to walk astounds me,” DiMarco told DailyMail.com. “I honestly wanted to sit on it and document the entire wheelchair trip, but I didn’t want to take that away from others in need,” he said. “This has happened multiple times. I’ve tweeted to United several times before…

“When it happened the first few times I felt frustrated because the airlines have acknowledged and apologized, but it is clear that they’ve never pushed for change, nor have they trained their employees.

“Of course not to say that all deaf people do not need a wheelchair or some sort of assistance. But it is just that I never requested one.” United responded to DiMarco’s Tweet with an apology and a request Tweeting, “Hey Nyle, we certainly don’t aim to disservice you with this. We’d like to follow up with you to discuss further. Please send us a DM with your conversation number, so we can help. ^EM”

 

This incident came less than a day after deaf activist and model Chella Man tweeted about the same issue on his recent flight with United.

 

United responded to this incident with an explanation stating, “We can understand your concern, Chella. Anytime a reservation is noted with a special service request, a wheelchair may accompany our agents in the event that the passenger before or after you needs assistance. It is intended to be more efficient in assisting our passengers. ^BN”

 

To read more on this story, head to The Daily Mail.

Image: [Source: Flickr/Maryland GovPics]

View Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. ludocdoc

    February 20, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Sounds more like an IT glitch than intended disrespect. Somehow the reservation system knows the PAX has a “special need” – maybe deaf folks cant sit in the exit row, or whatever, but the computer assumes everyone with some special need box clicked needs a wheelchair. I’m not saying that deaf people even have a special need – those I know are completely independent – but maybe a few have some box checked on their profile.

  2. RUAMKZ

    February 21, 2019 at 3:35 am

    It could easily been a mistake. The special service comments menus in the computers have “drop down menus”, which are somewhat problematic. I remember being with a group, with only one deaf person, and it listed every passenger on the record as being deaf.

    On another flight, there was a person with multiple special requests. There is a programming quirk where one will appear on the printed paperwork, and obliterate the other. We had a delay because there was a wheelchair passenger with an emotional support animal. The wheelchair showed on the paperwork, and the captain saw a dog on the plane, which was not showing on the paperwork. Took a 10 minute delay on this to figure what happened.

  3. mvoight

    February 21, 2019 at 6:54 am

    “. Anytime a reservation is noted with a special service request, a wheelchair may accompany our agents in the event that the passenger before or after you needs assistance. It is intended to be more efficient in assisting our passengers. ^BN”

    What a stupid statement. If it is more efficient when there is a deaf person, then they should simply send extra wheelchairs when there are no deaf people on the planes
    Then they will be prepared for all of those non-deaf people who have a person before or after them who might need one.

  4. chavala

    February 21, 2019 at 11:11 am

    What a stupid thing to whine about! Just refuse the chair and get on with your life. Are we supposed to throw this guy a pity party?

  5. secondsoprano

    February 21, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    “Anytime a reservation is noted with a special service request, a wheelchair may accompany our agents in the event that the passenger before or after you needs assistance. It is intended to be more efficient in assisting our passengers”

    What BS. What this is about is the “everyone with a disability is the same” line of thinking. It’s stupid and disrespectful. It’s the same reason people shout at people in wheelchairs, or talk really slowly, or talk to the person pushing the chair.

    It’s really not that bloody hard to find a way to treat people with disabilities as, you know, actual people.

  6. cdagirl

    February 22, 2019 at 10:53 am

    My husband is blind and travels with a guide dog. When receiving special assistance they always show up with a wheelchair even though we say none is needed. We were told they always provide a chair “just in case.” He just needs someone to navigate from one gate to the next and to find the service animal relief area. Sometimes he is left waiting because of a shortage of wheelchairs which is unnecessary for him.

  7. ksandness

    February 26, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Back when I was in college, a group of students from another school came to stay in our dorms for a January Term project. One of them was blind. When dorm staff found out that she was coming to stay, they asked if she would need a wheelchair. Her response: “My entire body works just fine except for my eyes.”

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