A man with disabilities crawled off a plane at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, Tuesday night after the airline failed to provide an aisle chair and someone to help him get off the plane.
Passenger DArcee Neal, was returning from San Francisco where he ironically had a speaking engagement about accessible transportation. He told NBC affiliate WSLS, that he feels like the airlines treat people with disabilities as a secondary concern.
Neal said the airlines is supposed to provide an aisle chair and someone to assist a disabled person so they can exit a plane. But, he said, after the United Airline flight landed no one from the airlines came to help. Crawling down the aisle was humiliating he said.
“I thought, I don’t have time for this and I decided to get out an crawl down the plane to my chair, got in it and then just went about my business and left the airport,” Neal told WSLS.
“I mean, it’s humiliating. No one should have to do what I did,” he said.
Under ADA’s section 504, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now implemented the Airport Disability Compliance program, which seeks to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability throughout American airports. Section 504 prohibits public entities who receive financial assistance from the federal government from discriminating on the basis of disability. The FAA program assures that travelers with disabilities have access to the activities, programs, and services that an airport provides to all travelers and raises awareness of accessible air travel for people with disabilities.
In addition, the Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination by U.S. and foreign air carriers on the basis of physical or mental disability. It states that, “Airlines are required to provide assistance with boarding, deplaning and making connections. Assistance within the cabin is also required, but not extensive personal services.”
A spokesperson for the Disability Rights Network said that last year there were over 27,500 complaints like Mr. Neal’s filed, an increase of over 9%. United Airlines said it regrets the delay in providing an aisle chair to assist Neal. You can watch the WSLS interview with Mr. Neal here.
UPDATE: United has responded – read their response here.
(NOTE: Accessology is committed to helping Cities, Counties and other public as well as private entities such as airports and airlines to become fully compliant under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). With over 30 years of experience, Accessology offers expert consultation services that look at policies and procedures as well as other requirements under the ADA. If you would like more information, please visit our website athttp://www.accessology.com)