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American Airlines Issues Apology Over a Passenger’s Damaged Power Wheelchair



power wheelchair

American Airlines offered an apology to a passenger who says that his power wheelchair was damaged. Matt Wetherbee is a quadriplegic who relies on his power wheelchair to move around. According to Wetherbee, American Airlines flight crew informed him that his power wheelchair isn’t going to fit on a plane. Not only did he go without a wheelchair, but the airline also damaged it.

Wetherbee was flying out of Logan in Boston and was on a layover in Charlotte. He said that “I’ve flown multiple, maybe 10-plus times on this aircraft”. During those times, the wheelchair fits. He added that “And I specifically said the chair cannot go on its side. It will likely get damaged”.

He was given options either to get off the plane or get onboard without the wheelchair. Wetherbee said that “But the key here is because there was too much other passenger luggage”. According to Wetherbee, the airline “just didn’t want to take out some luggage that was already on there, rearrange it, so my chair could fit on it”.

He also explained that “I said, ‘you realize I cannot stay overnight. I don’t have the proper supplies or help, and this is my only way of getting anywhere”.

Flew Without His Power Wheelchair

He then flew without the power wheelchair and used his shower chair instead. The only difference is that he can’t move on his own. Plus, it’s unsafe in a car. The power wheelchair was eventually returned but it won’t turn on. The wheelchair costs around $60,000. Wetherbee said that “It’s not safe to not be able to move yourself everywhere if there’s an emergency”.

When American Airlines was asked about their side, they said in a statement that “Our team will look into this and is reaching out to the customer to better understand his experience”.

A few hours later, the carrier apologized. They released a statement that reads: “We strive to provide a safe and enjoyable experience to all our customers, including those who fly with wheelchairs and assistive devices, and we sincerely regret that Mr. Wetherbee had a negative experience with us”.

According to US Department of Transportation’s data, American Airlines tops the number of disability-related travel complaints.