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A TikTok video shows a pair of American Airlines baggage handlers roll a wheelchair down a steep ramp at Miami International Airport (MIA). The wheelchair picks up considerable speed and bounces off of the end of the ramp before being picked up by one of the men loading bags.
Dang, after i saw them do this and laugh with the first two wheelchairs i had to get it on film. That is not what id call “handling with care” for someones mobility device…. #AmericanAirlines #handlewithcare #mobilitydevice #wheelchair
TikTok user, @haez93, captured the video yesterday. The wheelchair is released at the top of the luggage chute. It picks up momentum and crashes on the tarmac. The employee nearest the bottom of the ramp picks it up and then casually puts it onto a cart. It’s reported that the handlers were laughing and had already sent two other wheelchairs plummeting down earlier.
Wheelchairs are frequently damaged by airlines. The Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that in 2022, US airlines mishandled 11,389 wheelchairs or scooters, representing 1.54% of the total items carried. This year, 356 complaints were filed in the first two months. This represents a 57% increase in complaints over the same period in 2022. A damaged or destroyed wheelchair could severely limit someone’s mobility. This is not a scuffed suitcase situation. Many reports show that wheelchairs were returned broken and unable to be used by those that depend on them.
Paddle Your Own Kanoo reports that “the DOT continues to be so inundated with complaints that it hasn’t been able to release accurate figures on how many air travel complaints it is dealing with since March 2023.” American Airlines is also one of the worst offenders when it comes to the number of mobility devices damaged. Only low-cost carriers, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines performed worse.
Anthony’s Take: I almost never check a bag, but for those with a wheelchair or scooter, this is not an option. The airlines should ensure that these mobility devices get the utmost care and are not mishandled and thrown down chutes like race cars.
(Featured Image Credit: @haez93 via TikTok.)
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