Following footage of two baggage handlers violently throwing a wheelchair down a luggage chute, causing it to smash into a metal barrier, topple over, and slam onto the tarmac, American Airlines is once again in the news for how it treats disabled passengers.
Haez93, a TikTok user, recorded the incident while waiting to board a flight from the comfort of the Miami International Airport. She managed to capture the baggage handlers in action.
The baggage handlers are seen “mishandling” one manual wheelchair in the now-viral TikTok video. However, according to Haez, she didn’t start filming until after two other wheelchairs were handled the same way, which made the handlers “laugh” at their actions.
The video shocked commentators, and some former airline employees have brought up the fact that it is strictly forbidden to slide a wheelchair down a baggage chute.
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
Wheelchair users frequently refer to their mobility aid as an extension of their body, with many of them having wheelchairs made specifically for them.
It can take weeks or even months to repair a damaged wheelchair, and using loaner equipment can be dangerous in addition to uncomfortable.
The US Department of Transportation announced last month that it was examining the most effective ways to record and look into customer complaints because the number of complaints was continuing to rise beyond pre-pandemic levels.
According to data provided by the DOT, American Airlines handled 226 wheelchairs and scooters improperly in August 2023. Only Spirit and Frontier Airlines underperformed American Airlines in terms of the total number of wheelchairs handled in the same month.
American Airlines said in a statement that it was looking over the footage and would be taking the “necessary steps.”
The airline stated, “We recognize how important it is to support the independence of customers with disabilities by ensuring the proper care of mobility devices throughout their journey with us.”
“This visual is deeply concerning, and we are gathering more details so that we can address it with our team. We will continue to work hard to improve our handling of assistive devices across our network.”