A man with physical disabilities was forced to crawled off a plane at Reagan National Airport in Arlington VA, when United Airlines failed to provide him with help disembarking.
D'Arcee Neal has cerebral palsy. He says that when his 5-hour flight landed in Virginia last Tuesday, he wanted to get off the plane like everyone else–but he also really needed to use the restroom.
Some kind of error by the airline or airport staff resulted in no wheelchair available to help the 29-year-old, nor were attendants particularly helpful.
His disability made using the bathroom on the plane very difficult. He had already waited 15 minutes for the other passengers to get off the plane when he was told to continue waiting for a wheelchair. None came. After yet another 15 minutes or so, he decided to just crawl up the aisle from the middle of the plane to the doorway, to disembark–and no assistance was offered.
"I expected them to ask to assist me, but they just stared," he said.
"I mean, it's humiliating," he told the local NBC station. "No one should have to do what I did."
"I was trying to get them to understand that this is why I don't want to wait another 15 to 20 minutes," he said.
Mr. Neal was returning from San Francisco, where had been invited to speak about accessible transportation. This kind of crap happens to people with disabilities all the time. The National Disability Rights Network says it heard more than 27,000 similar complaints during last year alone.
The airline has since apologized, reports CNN:
A United representative called Neal the day after the flight to apologize.
"Quite frankly, I was just shocked, because this had happened a couple of times before (with various airlines), and no company had ever bothered to apologize when they've done something wrong," he said.
The representative told Neal the manager on duty was suspended. He also offered Neal $300 in compensation, which Neal says he accepted.
Neal said he is pleased with the airline's response. He says he never made a complaint, and his story only drew attention because he posted on Facebook that he was happy United reached out to him.
"I just hope they learn from this," he says.