United Airlines has come under fire after a man with cerebral palsy was forced to crawl off of a plane after the airline attendants wouldn’t assist him.
The incident took place at the Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday, October 20. When United Airlines failed to provide the man, identified as D’Arcee Neal, an aisle chair or someone to assist him to the restroom, he had no other choice but to get out of his seat and crawl to the door, according to WRC-TV.
“I was like, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ and I decided to get out and crawl down the plane to my chair, got in it and then just went about my business and left the airport,” said Neal.
“It’s humiliating,” he continued. “No one should have to do what I did.”
Ironically, Neal had just returned from San Francisco, where he was a guest speaker, speaking on accessible transportation for people with disabilities.
“Half the time, I feel like airlines treat people with disabilities as a secondary concern,” Neal said.
The National Disability Rights Network said incidents like this are occurring way too often. In fact, complaints by passengers with disabilities is up nine percent just in the past year.
“In 2014 here were over 27,500 complaints in reference to things like this, so it is not uncommon,” said Dara Baldwin of the National Disability Rights Network. “I hate to say that.”
Despite the Air Carrier Access Act, which was put in place to protect those with disabilities while they are flying, more and more incidents like Neal’s are being reported. According to Disability Travel, the Air Carrier Access Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities.”
Under the act, airlines are required to provide assistance with boarding, deplaning, and making connections. Assistance within the cabin is also required. Advocates are actively working on collecting stories from passengers to determine if any progress is being made under the act, and what still needs to be done