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

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by sobore, Aug 31, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://consumerist.com/2011/08/if-you-dont-look-disabled-expect-shoddy-treatment-from-delta.html

    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".

    Read More: http://consumerist.com/2011/08/if-you-dont-look-disabled-expect-shoddy-treatment-from-delta.html
     
  2. Blue Skye
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    Blue Skye Silver Member

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    Just wow! :eek: Disability has no particular look. I think some of their staff needs add'l education.
     
  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    The wheelchair pushers were probably airport or outside service employees, not airline staff. If they work for the airport, the airline doesn't necessarily have much control. Even if they work for an outside contractor, there might not be alternative services available at that station. We can blame DL for the check in agent showing reluctance to call for the wheelchair, but not for the refusal of the wheelchair pushers to help at the arrival gate. If they were assigned to someone else, they should have called for an additional wheelchair right away.
     
  4. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    I think this has less to do with not looking disabled and more to do with the quality of employees who work as skycaps. I've seen appalling behavior by them with very few exceptions of good service and care.
     
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  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Indeed, but I think there might be other stuff in play that wasn't mentioned. I mean, if you're disabled and you know you can't stand for long periods, you should know to make preparations so that you don't have to.

    Every airline has a section for disabled passengers -- whether they "look" disabled or not -- and for you to note if you have special needs. She should have known that she was going to need assistance and arranged to have a wheelchair for the duration, plus escalated any issues during IROPs.
     
  6. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    Before every flight people who need extra time boarding are asked to board first. Is there something noted on their boarding passes or do they talk to the GA? I've never travelled with someone needing extra time or assistance or been in the situation where I needed it so I have no idea how it works. Just wondering if anyone has any insight into how it's noted or if it's ever noted on the reservation or BP?

    Thanks!
     
  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I don't know about disabled people, but if you're traveling with an infant they usually note that on the boarding pass.

    Incidentally enough, on my last trip last week we were supposed to pre-board as we had lap child, yet all the so-called "elites" bum-rushed the gate as soon as the announcement was made. By the time we got onboard -- along with 3 wheelchair passengers in front of us -- there were already about a dozen people in the plane.

    :eek::rolleyes:
     
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  8. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    They need education and sensitivity training! Just when I thought they were humans......:eek:
     
  9. DebraI
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    DebraI Silver Member

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    You can add yourself to their list for needing assistance when you book your flight or by phone afterwards. I do this for a number of clients who are elderly but not 'disabled', so you don't need to be disabled but just have difficulty making it between gates on your own. It's hard to tell if she did this in advance.

    I personally have MS, and I have been told by my nurse to conserve energy whenever possible. I have some difficulty walking over long distances due to muscle weakness and spasms. After traversing the Frankfurt airport a few months ago trying to catch a plane that was already boarding, I have learned my lesson and will always ask for assistance between gates when I'm connecting at a large airport. From how it reads, it sounds like she didn't specifically note that she needed assistance when booking or in advance of arriving at the airport. While I really feel for her, since I've been in similar situations, the onus is really on yourself to make sure that you have done all you can in advance to ensure your travels are as smooth as possible.

    Delta probably could have handled things better. But it sounds like she could have planned a bit better, too.
     
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  10. Redhead

    Redhead Silver Member

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    When I've had to use wheelchair assistance due to being on crutches, there has never been anything on my boarding pass. I usually arranged it either beforehand when buying the ticket, or when checking in at the first class line. Another time, on crutches but without wheelchair assist, I spoke to the gate agent before boarding and simply asked if I could board early since I was really slow. I asked politely and was politely treated in return.
     
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  11. PointHoarder
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    PointHoarder Silver Member

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    In her letter she does write:

    So it sounds like she did notify them ahead of time and did in fact make some efforts to be prepared.
     
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  12. Stils

    Stils Silver Member

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    Somewhat related... A few years ago while we were still in college my (now) wife and I flew from Columbus,OH to Florence, Italy and somehow she was flagged as being blind and having a seeing eye dog. I was the one who made the reservations but I SWEAR I did not check any extra boxes. Anyways in the US the gate attendants called us up and moved our seats around. They kind of looked at us funny and asked us if we brought our dog. We laughed and said no and they said okay we can keep you in the same seats then. When we got to Paris the gate attendant for our next flight called us up and asked us where our dog was and kept looking at my wife kind of funny. We finally said we didn't understand why they thought we had a dog and she explained that my wife was listed as blind with a seeing eye dog. After everyone got a pretty good chuckle and my wife slugged me in the shoulder a few times we made our way to Florence and back with continued hilarity at every stop. :D
     

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