This is an actual letter written to United Airlines after being allegedly discriminated against as a disable passenger on March 21 and March 23, 2017. Flights ATL-ORD and ORD-ATL. No one has yet to reach out regarding this matter. Yet the headlines have been full of similar issues ever since this happened! United was fined 2.75 million dollars in 2016 for issues surrounding passengers with disabilities as well as other instances of abuse of power. United must not be allowed to operate with impunity an longer. The writer of this letter can be contacted by writing to RANTOnlineNews@gmail.com for liaison and to protect the writers privacy.
To whom it may concern,
On a United Airlines flight I was discriminated against based on my disability as follows. On a Domestic flight ATL-ORD. I am disabled and require oxygen during flight, I also have an implanted medicine delivery device and require to carry extra emergency medications and supplies. On the outbound flight to Chicago, I was assisted to the plane door by wheelchair, it was at this time that I was told I would not be able to bring my carry-on bag aboard as it would not fit. I explained that it contained my emergency supplies and medications. the Flight crew insisted that I gate-check the bag. They basically said I had no other choice, so I complied. Once I arrived in my seat. (7C) I noticed the woman in 7B had a bag three times the size of my (airline approved size) carry-on. There was approx.3ft of floor space in front of me and a very wide and empty and available space for my carry-on underneath the seat in front of me. I asked the flight attendant to please retrieve my carry-on that was just handed off to the porter at the door so I could have my medications and supplies. She said she would go get them. As they continued boarding the plane, approximately 10 minutes passed and the Pilot approached my seat. He asked about my request. He then explained that in order to retrieve the bag, it would cause delay as it might require unloading other baggage. I explained again why I needed it and that it was checked despite my objections and there was ample room for stowing it in front of my seat and that another passenger was allowed to carry on oversized baggage. He then asked if I would require my medications during the flight. I said “I don’t know it is for emergencies , I hope not” he said “i need a yes or no” I gave the same answer. He then said, “If you tell me that you need your medication from your bag, I cannot allow you to remain in this flight, because I will not unload all the baggage just to find yours.” I told him it was one of the last to be loaded, bright pink and easy to find. Again insisting on me giving a yes or no answer I felt I had No option but to say I didn’t need them to avoid being forced to Deplane. He then walked over to the door and told the porter, “Never mind, it’s ok, she said she doesn’t need it”
On the return flight, after missing my 12:30 flight because wheelchair assistance took 45 minutes to arrive when I checked in, I had to take the next flight at 2:30p. I was not allowed to pre-board and had to sit in a wheelchair at the gate and wait while everyone else boarded first even though I requested to board , this violating FAA Rule
§382.93 Must carriers offer preboarding to passengers with a disability?As a carrier, you must offer preboarding to passengers with a disability who self-identify at the gate as needing additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated.
Once I boarded the plane and sat in row 9C. My carry-on placed in overhead bin. Mid- boarding I was approached by the Flight attendant who stated that I had to move to a window seat because I was carrying a portable oxygen concentrator and that FAA requirements state that I have to be seated by the window. The POC is airline approved and no bigger than my purse. I further explained that I have never been required to sit in a window seat and that my disability requires I sit in the aisle for various reasons. He walked away. He returned a few minutes later. He went to the pilot and asked that we return to the gate. This time both the pilot and Flight attendant were insisting I switch seats because my oxygen tubing Might block aisle access. I offered to move the machine to where it sat beside me in the seat or directly under my seat and able to be secured with the seatbelt. per FAA regulations as follows
§135.91 Oxygen and portable oxygen concentrators for medical use by passengers.
(i) Exit seats. No person operating a portable oxygen concentrator is permitted to occupy an exit seat.
(ii) Stowage of device. During movement on the surface, takeoff and landing, the device must be stowed under the seat in front of the user, or in another approved stowage location so that it does not block the aisle way or the entryway to the row. If the device is to be operated by the user, it must be operated only at a seat location that does not restrict any passenger’s access to, or use of, any required emergency or regular exit, or the aisle(s) in the passenger compartment.
I explained again why my condition requires the aisle seat that I was assigned and I was again refused. By this time I am in tears. I stated that this was discriminatory as I was disabled and required an aisle seat and that since this was not an FAA requirement I fell well within my right to refuse. Again I explained my needs and how I complied the airlines policies, my POC is airline approved, I gave notice 48hrs ahead of time, I possessed medical documentation from my physician that Stated I could safely complete travel, and my seat request was never an issue before as I ALWAYS sit in the aisle seat. I fly 3-4 times/year. When I mentioned taking legal action for discriminatory actions against a disabled person by the airline I was the told I had to leave the plane. I was humiliated in front of all l the passengers, I was in tears and crying, they continued to insist I get off the plane and I was forcibly removed from the flight and rebooked on the 5:30 flight. A side note, another woman was also asked to deplane when the flight attendant overheard her mention to another passenger that she had surgery three days prior. Even though this woman, far more physically capable than I, was able to board without assistance, she appeared to be in no distress and was smiling and laughing until they asked her to deplane.
2.5 Hours later, I boarded my next flight without incident. I had my carry on, my POC AND I sat in the aisle. No one ever questioned me or even remarked about my equipment. However, despite the fact I carried extra batteries, I ran ut of oxygen midflight due to the multiple delays. I suffered mild chest pains and required extra medications upon landing. I was in some respirator distress when we landed. I was able to recover when I plugged the machine in an outlet. I arrived in ATL 7hours later than originally scheduled and still had to drive 3hrs home in the dark. My daughter was on the phone with me during the entire incident in Atlanta and can testify that I was severely distressed at my treatment. They gave no valid basis for removing me except that based on my disability I was too much trouble.
Additional FAA Rules
Subpart B—Nondiscrimination and Access to Services and Information
§382.11 What is the general nondiscrimination requirement of this part?
(a) As a carrier, you must not do any of the following things, either directly or through a contractual, licensing, or other arrangement:
(1) You must not discriminate against any qualified individual with a disability, by reason of such disability, in the provision of air transportation;
(2) You must not require a qualified individual with a disability to accept special services (including, but not limited to, preboarding) that the individual does not request. However, you may require preboarding as a condition of receiving certain seating or in-cabin stowage accommodations, as specified in §§382.83(c), 382.85(b), and 382.123(a) of this part.
(3) You must not exclude a qualified individual with a disability from or deny the person the benefit of any air transportation or related services that are available to other persons, except where specifically permitted by this Part. This is true even if there are separate or different services available for individuals with a disability, except when specifically permitted by another section of this Part; and
(4) You must not take any adverse action against an individual (e.g., refusing to provide transportation) because the individual asserts, on his or her own behalf or through or on behalf of others, rights protected by this part or the Air Carrier Access Act.
(d) If you refuse to provide transportation to a passenger on his or her originally-scheduled flight on a basis relating to the individual’s disability, you must provide to the person a written statement of the reason for the refusal. This statement must include the specific basis for the carrier’s opinion that the refusal meets the standards of paragraph (c) of this section or is otherwise specifically permitted by this part. You must provide this written statement to the person within 10 calendar days of the refusal of transportation.