United Breaks Dignity

Oh United, will you never learn?

A United passenger with cerebral palsy was forced to crawl from his airplane to the gate when the airline’s staff took away a special wheelchair needed for just such a case, reports the Los Angeles Times.
D’Arcee Neal was on a flight from San Francisco and urgently needed to use the restroom when the flight landed in Washington. A special wheelchair that fits in the airplane’s aisle that had been arranged for Neal was mistakenly removed by United’s staff.

United issued its customary we aren’t usually this shitty, here, have some money ($300 in this case) statement afterward, but it wasn’t clear whether or not Neal had taken the company up on its offer.

I almost feel bad for picking on United here because treating disabled people like everyone else isn’t exactly what you’d call a strength for the airline industry as a whole, it turns out. If anything, in spite of all the laws and training and what have you that exists now, it’s somehow getting worse at it.

Last year, 774 complaints were filed by disabled passengers with the U.S. Department of Transportation over civil rights violations, up 50% from the 519 complaints filed in 2009.
In the first six months of 2015, 459 complaints have been filed over civil rights violations of disabled passengers, putting the U.S. airline industry on pace to surpass last year’s total by 18%, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Obviously not every single one of those complaints is going to be found to be valid or actionable, but holy Christ, that sure is a lot of complaints. And no matter the results of individual cases, when the number of people who feel strongly enough that you’ve done them wrong that they’re willing to do paperwork is rising that steadily, that’s bad.

Join the Conversation


  1. And people wonder why I’m twitchy until I’m seated and the airplane is flying. No I’m not afraid of flying. I’m afraid of the bullshit that precedes flying

    1. Serious question: Are you also twitchy from the time the plane lands until you’re in the shuttle or cab or whatever coming home because of all the stupidity that can happen on that end, or is the before part that much worse? I haven’t flown in nearly 22 years, so haven’t got much in the way of modern perspective on this.

      1. Hmmm lemme think about that. The thing I’m most twitchy about after the plane lands is did they lose my luggage…and are they going to try and put me in a wheelchair? So I’d say yes. But the afterwards leg is much shorter than the multiple legs of hot potato you play beforehand…and if I’m desperate, I’m sure I can hornswoggle a passer-by to at least help me to baggage claim…hell, they’re going there anyway. Getting on, they can actually keep me from getting on, or who knows what? And they keep taking important papers like passports and gaarding passes and gaaaa.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.