UNITES STATES- American Airlines (AA) is utilizing video to assess a TikTok video wherein a baggage handler is seen releasing a passenger’s wheelchair down a jet bridge chute.
The wheelchair subsequently collided with a metal barrier, flipped over, and tumbled onto the airport tarmac
Viral Video Sparks Awareness
The widely-viewed post has drawn attention to the challenges faced by millions of disabled Americans during travel. According to the Paralyzed Veterans of America nonprofit, airline workers damaged, delayed, or lost over 31 wheelchairs each day between 2019 and 2022.
Haeley Dyrdahl, the TikTok user who posted the video, captured the incident at Miami International Airport on Sunday. She stated, ‘I recorded this after I saw them do this and laugh with the first two wheelchairs.’ Dyrdahl also mentioned witnessing a suitcase undergo a similar treatment.
In the video, the first baggage handler releases the wheelchair down the chute while a second handler, wearing an American Airlines vest, steps back at the other end.
The wheelchair collides with a barrier, flips over, and is then loaded onto a baggage cart by the handler. The extent of damage to the wheelchair is unclear
After seeing this happen firsthand a couple of times in a row, I was very sad to learn just how valid their concerns are,” she said
Enhance Disability Support
American Airlines issued a statement emphasizing the importance of supporting the independence of customers with disabilities by ensuring proper care for mobility devices throughout their journey.
The airline expressed deep concern about the incident captured in the video and is actively gathering additional details to address the issue internally. American Airlines is committed to continuous improvement in handling assistive devices across its network.
As part of its efforts, the airline is working on enhancing training for employees responsible for handling mobility devices.
Additionally, plans are underway to install wheelchair movers and lifts at airports experiencing high mobility device traffic, with the aim of reducing the risk of damage. However, no specific timeline for these improvements was provided.
Regarding platform X, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, commenting on the incident, deemed it “totally unacceptable.” The Department of Transportation, which has established a bill of rights for disabled passengers, has initiated an investigation.
According to the most recent data released by the Department of Transportation in August 2023, American Airlines mishandled 226 wheelchairs and scooters, resulting in a rate of 2.24 per 100 handled on planes.
Among the 15 major US carriers, the airline ranked 13th in the mishandling rate, according to the provided data
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