Call for Action Investigation: Wheelchair damaged on flight

Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 9:57 AM MDT
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A man reached out to our Call for Action team because he said his wheelchair had thousands of dollars of damage following a recent flight.

"These are our life, our legs," said Tony Wilkins. "When I saw my chair, I thought it was completely destroyed."

Tony is a paraplegic and depends on his chair. Tony's friend took a video of his chair on a baggage belt while they were sitting on an airplane at the Houston Airport.

"We were the last people off the plane," Tony told 11 Call for Action Reporter Katie Pelton. "I don't know if they thought no one was watching or anything but that video is pretty much self-damning. As I watch the video, I get a little more angry."

In the video above, you can see several workers looking at the chair and one man on the phone. Tony didn't get to see the damage up-close until he landed at DIA and they brought him his chair.

"The frame was bent, the arm rests were bent, everything was just bent and smashed," said Tony.

He filed a claim with United Airlines about the damage.

We reached out to United Airlines and they gave us the following statement:

"At United, our goal is to provide the best travel experience for all of our customers, and we are particularly focused on taking due care with special items like wheelchairs and scooters, which are essential for those traveling with them. We have been in contact with our customer to apologize for his experience and to repair the wheelchair, and are continuing to work with our team to better understand what happened."

Tony got his chair back and United paid $4,000 for the repairs.

"The issue is they need to be educated and I would like to see something like that, some kind of education program," said Tony.

We asked United if they already do some kind of training on how to handle certain cargo, or if they will after this happened, but they didn't give an answer to that specific question.

If you have a problem with a company, you can reach out to our 11 Call for Action team of volunteers at 457-8211.

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