Jesus, United. I don’t even know what to say anymore.
Valentin Duthion has spinal muscular atrophy, and requires the use of his wheelchair to get around. When he and his friends boarded a United Airlines flight to New Jersey, they left his chair in the care of airline staff, as is normal procedure, according to the website Travel Pulse.
When they arrived, Duthion’s 250-kilogram wheelchair was missing a wheel, while another was tilted. The user interface box had been broken off and the steering handle had been damaged.
A mechanic who took a look at the chair confirmed that it was beyond usable for Duthion’s 27-day trip, according to French newspaper Le Progres.
United is paying to repair the chair and offered Duthion a different motorized wheelchair, which was not adapted for his particular needs.
In a statement to People, Airline officials confirmed they had provided a loaner wheelchair and upgraded the group’s return flight.
But Duthion’s sister Lucie told Le Progres the group was told if they did not accept United’s wheelchair, they would have to sign a waiver saying they refused the airline’s help.
“We had no choice but to accept this proposal after an ultimatum posed by the company,” she said.
Other than that they’re United and that’s just how they roll, there is no information on how or why a wheelchair valued at nearly $55,000 was treated so carelessly. Perhaps the aviation police were pulling double duty as baggage handlers that day. They have a bit of a thing for beating the shit out of United’s cargo, after all.