The number one rule in safely handling and transporting power wheelchairs is simple: the device should never be taken off its wheels. In a video taken earlier this year at Miami International Airport, it appears that American Airlines baggage handlers haven’t received that training.
Specialized baggage carts with ramps for loading wheelchairs are available at MIA Airport and there is no need for baggage handlers to lift wheelchairs that weigh hundreds of pounds.
In the video above, you saw my power wheelchair dropped from the baggage belt onto the ramp, then flipped on its back in a subsequent attempt at loading the wheelchair. It was yanked, pulled, tugged and mishandled in ways that resulted in additional damage.
Mind you, there is no compensation provided to passengers for their TIME spent dealing with damaged wheelchairs, filing a damage claim, getting the wheelchair repaired or purchasing a new one. These tasks add up to hours or days of lost time, missed activities, missed work and more. Airlines are only responsible for the cost of repair or replacement, nothing more. I wasn’t even offered a single frequent flyer mile for this inconvenience, so I have no qualms about sharing this video with you.
As statistics from the Department of Transportation demonstrate, American Airlines isn’t the only airline that has trouble treating wheelchairs with care. But, together with their codeshare partners, they are the worst — mishandling/damaging a total of 329 wheelchairs in the first two months of 2019 alone.
Thats not a good look, AA.
How have airlines treated your wheelchair?
Does the fear of wheelchair damage keep you from flying?
Let me know in the comments below!