‘I am completely immobile.’ Airline keeps woman waiting over an hour for wheelchair
A woman whose only means of getting around is with her wheelchair says that she was treated poorly by the airline JetBlue and the people at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Yomi Wrong says that it is a crapshoot every time she flies. She says that she feels the disabled are sometimes treated poorly. She says that she sometimes feels as if she is treated like a second-class citizen.
Wrong went on social media to describe her last flight on JetBlue as a “trash experience.” She says she had to wait an hour for her wheelchair, and only got it back because her sister went looking for it.
“I am completely immobile. It is cold. I’m sitting in a hallway in the jet bridge and I’m abandoned,” Wrong says.
She had just flown into Newark from San Francisco for business. She says she waited over 30 minutes before someone from JetBlue approached her in person. She says that the representative apologized to her and said, “That all of the elevators at the airport were broken and they had no way of bringing my chair up."
Wrong says another 30 minutes went by, at which time her sister went looking for the wheelchair. The sister found the $30,000 chair with a piece broken off.
“She actually looked through a door, which was an exit door near an elevator. Opened it, saw my wheelchair sitting in the rain on the tarmac and asked them to bring it up,” Wrong says.
A spokesperson for JetBlue says in a statement, "While this customer's wheelchair was never lost, elevator issues led to the delay of its retrieval and for that, we deeply apologize. We will continue to engage with our customer directly related to any potential damage to the device as we want to ensure we resolve this issue."
Wrong says that her experience speaks to a larger issue of how travelers with disabilities are treated.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, a disabled person cannot sue when wheelchairs are broken, or people are treated badly. Only complaints are allowed.
Wrong says she would like to see this changed. “The only thing these airlines care about is their bottom line,” she says.
She is hoping for help on the federal level. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in March, that “transportation inequality” needs to be addressed.
“It benefits the entire country by unlocking the contributions that Americans with disabilities can make to our economy, to their families and to our society,” Buttigieg says.
Wrong says that at the very least flight crews need to communicate.
“There’s zero communication from one destination to another. Every time I land, they act caught off guard when a passenger has a mobility issue,” Wrong says.
She says that because of this lack of communication, she is already anxious about her flight back to California. She says she is not concerned about the flight itself, but the experience of getting off the plane.