A shocking video circulated online wherein American Airlines baggage handlers were caught hurling a passenger’s wheelchair down a metal ramp. The viral video that sparked outrage was initially posted on TikTok on November 19.
The video garnered millions of views and sparked discussions regarding the plight of disabled passengers. According to Paralyzed Veterans of America, there were more than 31 wheelchairs damaged, lost, or delayed on average each day by airline workers from 2019 to 2022.
The individual who posted the video on the social media platform, Haeley Dyrdahl, said that she recorded the incident at Miami International Airport. She also said she saw other mishandled wheelchairs. According to Dyrdahl, she started filming “after I saw them do this and laugh with the first two wheelchairs.” Aside from a wheelchair, she also saw the baggage handlers do the same on a suitcase.
Dyrdahl said that she encountered wheelchair users at work. Many of them were concerned how their wheelchair would be handled during travel. She added, “After seeing this happen firsthand a couple of times in a row, I was very sad to learn just how valid their concerns are.”
American Airlines Promises to Improve Its Handling of Wheelchairs
American Airlines released a statement and said, “We recognize how important it is to support the independence of customers with disabilities by ensuring the proper care of mobility devices throughout their journey with us. This visual is deeply concerning and we are gathering more details so that we can address them with our team. We will continue to work hard to improve our handling of assistive devices across our network.”
The airline also said that it is going to improve the training of its employees when it comes to handling mobility devices as well as installing wheelchair movers. By doing so, this could lower the risk of damaging wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Pete Buttigieg: “Totally Unacceptable”
In a post on X, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed his disappointment. He said that the incident was “totally unacceptable.” He also said that the department is going to conduct its investigation.
In August 2023, the airline recorded a total of 226 mishandled wheelchairs and scooters according to the latest Department of Transportation data.