Complaints Cite Airline Wheelchair Service
Bad service for passengers using wheelchairs drew more attention than any other problem on the government's first tally of disability-related complaints to airlines.
In all, according to the recent report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, passengers filed 10,193 complaints with U.S. airlines in 2004, and about two-thirds involved wheelchairs.
In addition to inadequate assistance, passengers also complained of damaged chairs, poor seating arrangements, inaccessible aircraft and excessive waits for stored chairs upon landing. About 17 million disabled passengers fly each year, according to the government's most recent estimate.
The complaints about poor assistance don't surprise Bob Herman, senior attorney with Paralyzed Veterans of America. "That's where they fail the most often," he says of airlines.
Wheelchair users might wait an hour for help, and the person who arrives might not know proper lifting techniques or speak English, he says.