U.S. Airways Attendant Leaves Traveler In Wheelchair Out In The Rain

Once again demonstrating its commitment to excellence, U.S. Airways reportedly left an elderly traveler stranded in the rain on a wheelchair lift for several minutes while her daughter looked on helplessly.

The woman, a stroke victim who requires wheelchair assistance, and another woman in a wheelchair had been escorted to the plane by flight attendants. However, it wasn’t until after the passenger was put into place on the lift that the attendants noticed there was no lift operator to be found.

Describes the daughter:

[The attendant] left my mother in the rain to look around for the operator… During this time the other attendant with the second lady motioned for me and my little grandson to come onto the aircraft, as we approached the bottom of the stairs of the aircraft in the rain, he motioned for us to go back to the building as the aircraft was not ready.

In going back to the building I saw my mother still sitting on the lift in the rain waiting for the lift operator, who returned a few minutes later.

The passenger’s daughter said she is sure the attendant wasn’t intentionally being neglectful but that the airlines should be “more sensitive when dealing with the older generation.”

She added, “elders become very sensitive and feel that they are a burden to others, consequently once sitting on the aircraft my mother broke down and cried.”

The daughter says she has been contacted by the airline and that they have told her they will be sending a written apology.

You may remember the story from October of the U.S. Airways passenger — a professional motivational speaker who has cerebral palsy — who was removed from a flight because he was too disabled to fly.

Senior left in the rain by US Airways attendant [RoyalGazette.com]

Thanks to Chris for the tip!

Comments

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  1. Rebecca K-S says:

    This just makes me sad.

  2. dush says:

    Well that apology letter should make everything ok.

  3. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    What the hell was keeping the attendant or the daughter from wheeling the mother back into the building?? I would like to avoid blaming the OP, but when accompanying someone who needs assistance, you need to not only advocate on their behalf, sometimes you have to actually take care of them yourself.

    • failurate says:

      Sounds like ingress and egress was controlled and that the OP didn’t have access to the lift area.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        That’s what I thought too, but:

        “During this time the other attendant with the second lady motioned for me and my little grandson to come onto the aircraft, as we approached the bottom of the stairs of the aircraft in the rain, he motioned for us to go back to the building as the aircraft was not ready.

        Everybody was outside in the rain.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’ve been with loved ones in the hospital. While the hospitals give great overall care, you are the walking, talking, fully cognizant advocate who can and should intervene when stupid shit happens, when the patient can’t.

    • mythago says:

      And then the flight attendants call the TSA on your ass for being ‘disruptive’, so that you get yanked off your flight and have zero chance of helping your elderly mother.

      Then Consumerist posters call you an idiot. Win-Win!

  4. Red Cat Linux says:

    Am I missing something? I could not see anything that would induce me to leave my disabled mother alone in a wheel chair while the airline tried to get it’s act together.

    Still, shoddy attention to detail on the airline’s part.

    • Aisley says:

      You don’t see it? It is the “You are not allowed to go through this gate unless you have a valid airplane ticket” crap from the TSA.

      • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

        When assisting a disabled person either on or off an airplane, it’s not all that difficult and fairly SOP to get a gate pass to do just that without having to buy a ticket.

        BTW, US Air has more than earned its nickname in my house…UScair.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        Did you RTFA? The daughter was indeed a ticketed passenger, stood outside the plane in the rain as well until told to first board, then go back inside.

        I don’t see what might cause her to leave her mother alone under those conditions. This complaint is seriously light in the details. Based on the information we have, it wouldn’t have happened to my mother.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Late reply, YES you are missing something. Wheelchairs have to be secured before they can be lifted. The daughter would have to undo all that to get her mother off the lift.

  5. AllanG54 says:

    Blame this on the unions. I’m sure the flight attendants could have been trained to work the lift but the lift attendant’s union wouldn’t let it happen.

    • pop top says:

      Is there a specific lift attendant union? Or are you just rabidly anti-union and are spewing bullshit? I think it’s probably the latter.

      • ShruggingGalt says:

        No, he’s right. Union employees are generally forbidden from going outside of their own job duties. Otherwise they are showing why you don’t need as many employees.

        • Kibit says:

          So true. Also non-union employees can not do the job of a union employee. Even if there is no union employee around to do the job. My Dad has come across this in his work as an electrician dealing with union workers and I dealt with this while working many years ago in a Safeway Starbucks.

          I was union and the store management was non-union. I was by myself at the Starbucks with 10 customers in line. I asked someone from the management team to help me or find someone to help me by just taking orders and ringing up the drinks. They refuse and said no one could help because of union rules. I later talked to my union rep and it was true, due to union rules they could not help me.
          Unfortunately I had more issues with the union rules then I had benefits because of them. It was frustrating.

          • Vermont2US says:

            This is not true of all unions. Without actual confirmation that it was a union contract issue, this is simply union-bashing.

  6. PupJet says:

    – She added, “elders become very sensitive and feel that they are a burden to others, consequently once sitting on the aircraft my mother broke down and cried.” –

    Obviously she was a burden to you as well as you couldn’t take RESPONSIBILITY yourself to bring it up OR wheel her back in yourself. Not saying that the attendant wasn’t at fault as well, but use your brain you idiot!

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      It’s possible there was a gate that was closed on the lift that she didn’t know how to open or didn’t have access to. She could have spoken up and said something like “you’re not just going to LEAVE here there, are you?”, though. It’s easy to find yourself doing what you’re told at airports, because we’re already in that mode.

      Speaking as someone with mobility issues who’s been in a wheelchair on and off, it seems to be very easy for people pushing you around to start to see you as cargo, just another part of the job.

    • Judah says:

      Uh, if you go onto the runway without clearance/permission to do so, they arrest you.

      • PupJet says:

        Did you RTFA?

        “During this time the other attendant with the second lady motioned for me and my little grandson to come onto the aircraft, as we approached the bottom of the stairs of the aircraft in the rain, he motioned for us to go back to the building as the aircraft was not ready.

        In going back to the building I saw my mother still sitting on the lift in the rain waiting for the lift operator, who returned a few minutes later.”

        I will point out two obvious statements:

        1. “During this time the other attendant with the second lady motioned for me and my little grandson to come onto the aircraft”
        2. “In going back to the building I saw my mother still sitting on the lift in the rain waiting for the lift operator, who returned a few minutes later.”

        Again, did she NOT mention the mother thing? Maybe even taking her back with her KNOWING the weather was unfavorable at that time?

  7. FireJayPa says:

    What more do they want, they had an attendant give the special attention to the lady? If the daughter didn’t like it she should have brought her mother back inside of watching with her mouth agape.

    But if that’s too much trouble I suggest putting your mother in a nursing home as she’s clearly a burden to you and you’re failing to handle the most basic responsibilities.

  8. damageddude says:

    I don’t understand. I used to travel with my disabled mother when she was well enough to travel and rarely left her side when at airports etc (I think I did once as there was no room in the small elevator at the airport in Jamaica — this was over 20 years ago). This needs more information: Why couldn’t the daughter get back to the mother? Was the mother being boarded from another area that the daughter couldn’t access (we’ve been to places where they insisted the accompanying walker not use the ramp to enter a place — very strange)?

  9. MB17 says:

    Pretty poor job by the airline.

    But here’s my beef. The daughter looked on “helplessly” as her mother was pelted by rain because the “lift operator” was nowhere to found. What? Elevator lifts aren’t difficult to use. There are two switches. There are fucking pictures that indicate what they do. The daughter should be slapped for being an r-tard. Get your mother out of the rain!

  10. nickmark says:

    US Airlines has had such a bad track record on the disabled why are they still flying on it unless they have no other choice.

  11. dannod says:

    Usually there’s more than one cause to situations like this. If it wasn’t raining would this have been an issue? Probably not. If flight crew was trained and permitted via their contracts to assist the elderly and disabled (like any good human probably would), then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. If a trained lift operator had been in the area (maybe train more than just one person how to push a button?) then this wouldn’t have happened. If the other attendant had made sure everything was in place before bringing the woman out, then this wouldn’t have happened. If the daughter had refused to let her mother go out there without everything in place, this wouldn’t have happened. If the old woman’s attitude had been “Eh, it’s just rain” (And some old people WOULD behave that way), then there wouldn’t have been a complaint.

    So you can’t point to just one thing here. It’s a lot of different unfortunate things happening at once. The daughter can’t blame the airline without also blaming God for the rain and herself for not being more assertive.

  12. Rhinoguy says:

    I have been dragging an oxygen concentrator behind myself for almost three years now. It has (had) a large sticker on it that says (said) FAA APPROVED. I tried once to enter our local airport with the thing humming (that’s part of its job) and was immediately stopped by several bar bouncer types with MP-5 machine guns in my face. I let two of them escort my “bomb” to the counter where I refunded my ticket and decided airports are just too dangerous for anything out of the normal. They told me to shut up when I POINTED to the sticker on my machine. The counter clerk just said “Whatever” when I explained my situation.
    Sad, as the alternative, Amtrak, is three times as expensive, leaves for my only distant destination at 3AM and takes six times as long to cover the same distance. That’s one and a half hours by air including both airports v nine hours by train. The bus takes twelve.
    The fastest, cheapest way to make that trip? Freaking LIMO. Plus the limo has a twelve volt jack so I can recharge my machine!