United Passenger: Airline Lost My Wheelchair, Sent Me One Belonging To Another Passenger

A man in California claims that United Airlines not only lost his wheelchair, but that the airline denies he ever checked one on the plane, all while sending him a replacement wheelchair belonging to a different United passenger.

The man, who flew United for a trip to Mexico in March, says he was on his wheelchair up to the airplane gate, at which point it was checked, only to vanish into the ether.

“I faxed a property request,” he tells KTLA. “I sent the tag that was on my luggage that was for my wheelchair, because my wheelchair was taken from the gate up to the plane.”

In spite of having the tag showing the wheelchair was checked, an airline rep tells KTLA that United has no record of the passenger checking a wheelchair on the flight.

And yet, the man did end up receiving a wheelchair from United. Alas, it belongs to someone in Hawaii who says it went missing on a United flight last year, and who would very much like to get their wheelchair back.

United explains to KTLA that the California passenger’s claim “is pending as we wait for him to provide any documentation — such as a purchase receipt, information about the wheelchair’s purchase, or a photograph of himself with his wheelchair — to enable us to verify the claim is not fraudulent.”

Fontana Man Says United Airlines Lost His Wheelchair [KTLA.com]

Thanks to Harper for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    As part of their vigorous investigation, United will be sneaking up behind the passenger in his replacement wheelchair, then unceremoniously dumping him on the floor and lighting the drapes on fire. Is he really paralyzed from the waist down? We’ll see.

  2. dush says:

    Their own luggage tag isn’t proof enough?
    United should change their name to Divided cause that’s what happens to you and your luggage.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      That’s their SOP for losing luggage. So why not also use it for wheelchairs, children, cats, etc.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “the California passenger’s claim “is pending as we wait for him to provide any documentation — such as a purchase receipt, information about the wheelchair’s purchase, or a photograph of himself with his wheelchair — to enable us to verify the claim is not fraudulent.”

    1). Check wheelchair in on flight
    2). Give receipt for wheelchair
    3). Deny that man checked in wheelchair even though he has receipt for said wheelchair
    4). Profit from free wheelchairs?

    • mauispiderweb says:

      See, this is how they always have a floating wheelchair:

      1. Check wheelchair from passenger
      2. Inform passenger that they never checked a wheelchair, please provide proof of purchase
      3. Wait for next passenger to check wheelchair
      4. Use step 2. for next passenger
      5. Give next passenger previous passenger’s wheelchair
      6. Repeat steps as needed and you’ll always have a spare wheelchair
      7. Profit

  4. GrimJack says:

    In related news, man angry that United gave away his wheelchair, vows revenge. United spokesperson said in a statement that United will not rest until every wheelchair in America has been shifted to next wheelchair owner in line…

    • Lyn Torden says:

      The problem is, they are not shifting by one. They are shifting by a huge number of chairs. John’s chair will exit the queue sometime next year … unless disabled flyers stop flying on United, in which case the queue will stop, trapping a bunch of chairs.

  5. Invader Zim says:

    So somewhere there is a underground current of wheel chairs moving in the world from non own to non owner. Interesting. Im sure some shipping service is happy.

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    It’s obvious what happened. Someone stole the wheelchair to replace one damaged in a wheelchair accident because they parked in a handicapped spot they shouldn’t have while buying a TV as an engagement gift. Oldest scam in the book.

    • blogger X says:

      Wait till they find out the engaged couple calls off the wedding!

    • kobresia says:

      The man should check the brakes on his replacement wheelchair.

    • Lt. Coke says:

      These Consumerist memes are getting pretty…obscure. I remember the good old days when it was enough to say ‘I make my own fraudulent wheelchair claims at home.’

  7. WarriorKitty82 says:

    I am terrified of this. My husband is a double amputee and relies on his wheelchair for mobility at the moment (robot legs on the way, long recovery, war sucks). There really isn’t any “official” documentation for checking a chair. You receive a handwritten ticket, with the other half tied to the wheelchair. His chair comes apart, too but so far the airlines have been great about stowing those pieces on the plane.

    I hope they work this out, stat. Wheelchairs aren’t all equal, and for those who live in them, the customized chairs are vital.

    P.S. Go Airtran and Allegiant for being the best in wheelchair/handicap care!

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Engrave your/his name on all the parts of the wheelchair with a phone number/email.

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      Some way a GPS can be permanently attached? Just grasping here but I can definitely see why you’re freaked.

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      P.S. Please tell your husband thank you for me.

      • WarriorKitty82 says:

        I will and thank you for the idea!

      • TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

        I just hit the thread – been a long day, but if you read this – I’d like to express my families appreciation for both of you! Him for his support of our country and you for your support of him.

    • FatLynn says:

      Okay, wouldn’t your husband, if that happened, notice immediately? What’s weird about this story is the claim made after the fact.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Huh? No it wasn’t. Man checked chair, didn’t get chair at destination, and filled out forms. United is divided (heh) and claims both that they have no record of the chair while also sending the customer a different chair. Nothing says the man didn’t notice either the chair being missing or being replaced with someone else’s chair.

    • goheels83 says:

      Thank you to your husband, and to you, for your service and sacrifice.

    • Sean says:


      Thank you to your husband for all he has done for our country. Also thank you to you for supporting him. All those that sacrifice for others are special people.

  8. PBallRaven says:

    Hey, one gimp is pretty much the same as the other, hey United? /s

  9. FatLynn says:

    Uh, how did he exit the plane?

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      they probably bring one to the gate so you can get to baggage claim.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Yes, the airlines or airports (I’m not sure of the logistics) have a narrow one they use to take people up and down the aisle. Most wheelchairs wouldn’t fit down the aisle at all.

        • FatLynn says:

          Right, but it sounds like this dude left the airport, went home, and then made a complaint. It’s no wonder United needs some time to investigate.

          • WarriorKitty82 says:

            Sometimes they tell you to call a special number if guest services/lost luggage people aren’t there. Rarely do they let you make an official claim at the time of the incident. They need time to figure out if it’s lost or gone.

            It’s nonsense.

          • Conformist138 says:

            It’s just an easy way to make customers leave the airport without their stuff- no need to have customer service in the airport held up dealing with lost luggage issues. Much simpler to provide a phone number or URL and tell the person to deal with the issue from home. The promise of found items being delivered to their door is usually enough to convince someone not to stay in the airport making a scene.

  10. Lyn Torden says:

    “But Charlie Hobart, a spokesman for United Airlines in Chicago, told KTLA the airline does not have a record of Ramirez checking a wheelchair.”

    2 losses!

    “In an odd twist to the story, United Airlines did send a wheelchair to Ramirez, but that chair belonged to an owner in Honolulu, Hawaii, and had been lost by the airline last year.”

    Make that 3 losses. Oh wait, not a loss … a theft … to stock up their own supply of chairs.

    Are we allowed to combine these losses in different years to credit them for a Golden Poo?

  11. nikalseyn says:

    I remember the days when airlines in this country were efficient and reliable with great service. No longer. I don’t know why they don’t just hike up the fares to the point where they can make money and get back to providing good customer service. They want to charge for everything now, but I would rather pay more for the ticket and have them bring back some of the old amenities—plus, kindly hire good-looking, young stewardesses again—not women who look like my grandmother or the limp-wristed kid next door.

    • gman863 says:

      plus, kindly hire good-looking, young stewardesses again—not women who look like my grandmother or the limp-wristed kid next door.

      If you want T & A, go to Hooters. It’s hundreds less than an airline ticket and they won’t charge you an extra $25 if you carry a briefcase into the restaurant.

    • wellfleet says:

      In case you’re not a troll and just a major jerk… Limp-wristed? Really? Please remove yourself from the planet, you’re disgusting.

    • newsbunny says:

      Please post a picture of yourself.

  12. Hotscot says:

    This is like calling black white! How the hell is his receipt not proof?

  13. ironflange says:

    At least it wasn’t broken, so he doesn’t have to write a song.

  14. PercussionQueen7 says:

    My brother’s extremely specialized wheelchair cost $16,000. More than any car I’ve owned. More than I’ve made some years.

    United might want to find this chair, PRONTO, or they’re gonna be out serious money.

    • katastrophreak says:

      Yeah, my brother’s custom titanium wheelchair was $12,000+ over five years ago. He’s had to have adjustments made to it since then, but without it he’d have no way of getting around.

  15. rlmiller007 says:

    People traveling on the plane need to have their own receipt for someone to sign at boarding. (Of course they probably wont sign it.) or how about snapping a picture with the wheelchair just before boarding.

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      This is what I was thinking. Take a picture of you, the wheelchair, the tag, and your boarding pass in one shot. Now let them pretend the claim is fraudulent.

  16. Captain Obvious says:

    All part of an elaborate “Oceans 11” style wheelchair heist op.

  17. axiomatic says:

    That is possibly the scummiest corporate response I have ever heard. You owe this person the “Rolls Royce” of wheelchairs as an apology United.

  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Urrrrgggggghhh stop messing up, United….I have to fly back on them Wednesday. Don’t even get me started on the Expedia/US Airways/United triple handjob I had to bust through to get the return booked. :P

  19. clickable says:

    So they are suggesting that an able-bodied person forged a gate check luggage tag so he could score a used wheelchair from United Airlines?

    That makes perfect sense.