United Airlines Returns Passenger's Wheelchair In Pieces

When a United Airlines passenger got off the flight from Washington, D.C., to Oklahoma City, he was expecting that his $20,000 power wheelchair would be waiting for him. And it was… well at least some of it was.

“When I arrived in Oklahoma City, I came out to nothing more than a seat and a set of wheels,” the man tells KFOR-TV.

As often happens when power wheelchairs are stowed on board a plane, United employees had to disassemble the traveler’s chair so it would fit in the plane’s luggage compartment. But it appears that the airline didn’t fully re-assemble the chair when the plane landed.

According to DOT regulations [PDF]:

When wheelchairs or other assistive devices are disassembled by the carrier for stowage, the carrier shall reassemble them and ensure their prompt return to the individual with a disability. Wheelchairs and other assistive devices shall be returned to the passenger in the condition received by the carrier.

The passenger says he filed a complaint with United but didn’t receive a response, at least until KFOR got involved and released the following statement:

We sincerely regret the damage that occurred to our customer’s wheelchair. We have apologized for the inconvenience and will reimburse the customer for the entire cost of the repairs needed to the assistive device.

A manager at the medical supply store that repaired the traveler’s chair tells KFOR that such incidents occur “quite frequently.”

(NOTE: Skip to around 2:30 in the video to get to this story.)

Airline returns man’s wheelchair in pieces [KFOR.com]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.