If You Don't 'Look' Disabled, Expect Shoddy Treatment From Delta

Alauna is disabled, unable to walk or stand for long periods of time. But she’s in her 20s and there is nothing obviously physically wrong with her at first glance. This meant that her requests for assistance during her recent Delta flight delay nightmare were met with resistance or eye-rolling.

I sent this EECB to various execs at Delta Airlines two weeks ago, and no one has even bothered to contact me. I was in Chicago from 15 Aug through 20 Aug on business, and to say goodbye to my dying father. My 3yr old daughter and I traveled to O’Hare (Chicago) prior to noon on the 20th only to find out that our 2PM flight had been cancelled.

As an individual with a disability, I count on wheelchair assistance to help me with mobility issues in larger airports. The Delta clerk who was assisting us simply pointed to an extremely long line and said, “you’ll have to wait there to get another flight”. I expressed that I was disabled, and could not stand for long periods of time. She then reluctantly called a manager to have wheelchair assistance for me.

After waiting roughly an hour, my daughter and I were given a flight scheduled for departure 5 hrs later and we were pushed through the security checkpoint. After waiting the 4.5 hours to board the plane, we were told that the flight had been delayed another 45 minutes. Once we finally left Chicago and landed into Atlanta, I struggled up the ramp from the plane as there was no one there to assist me. Once I reached the gate, I asked for assistance but the individuals that had wheelchairs at the gate said, “these chairs are not for you and you’ll have to find someone else to help”.

I struggled to make it to my next flight, but the late arrival caused us to miss the last flight of the day back to GPT, MS. I struggled to walk towards 2 different golf-cart type vehicles that carry handicapped travelers to and from their gates, but both said that I did not “appear disabled” and should walk to the nearest customer service station to get my flight rescheduled.

My 3yr old daughter and I waited in the customer service line for another hour and my fatigue had me almost laid out on the floor. When we finally made it to the customer service desk, I was told that my flight had been rescheduled for tomorrow morning and we were given a voucher to stay the night at the Clarion Hotel in [redacted].

I explained that I could barely walk and needed wheelchair assistance. The customer service rep explained, “You should have told me that! They are going to take a long time to get here”. My daughter and I went to have a seat and waited almost 2 hours (almost 11pm) for someone to arrive to help me. No one came. I struggled to walk to find food as my daughter had become extremely hungry from waiting so long. After we ate, I struggled to walk towards the door to find the shuttle to take us to the hotel. Once we arrived at the [hotel], there was an altercation between another traveler and the front desk clerk where curse words were exchanged in front of my 3yr old daughter!

The room was very disappointing and had an odor that was less than becoming. I was horrified at how I had been treated and even more disappointed at what seemed like blatant discrimination based on my age/disability-I am 26 yrs old and may not “appear” as disabled to some people. I suffer from a neurological disability and put Delta airlines on notice during my ticket purchase and notified flight attendants/clerks along the way that I would be in need of assistance.

The 3 gentlemen that refused to help me with wheelchair assistance along with the Delta clerk who seemed less than eager to assist me with a courier due to my age in requesting the accommodation made me feel less than human and no one deserves to be treated the way in which my daughter and I was by Delta Airlines.

I trusted Delta to take care of us through our travel as they had always done in the past. I was having a difficult time emotionally due to my father’s medical situation, and this experience left me extremely drained (physically and mentally). I don’t know if I’ll ever use this airline again based on the hassle, inconsideration, and humiliation I suffered at the hands of Delta Airlines employees and their subsidiaries.