In mid-January, United Airlines was fined $2.75 million for its treatment of passengers with disabilities. Complaints against the airline include not providing passengers with wheelchairs or other assistive devices for boarding and disembarking from planes, and delays on the tarmac that lasted in some cases over three hours. The most dramatic case in recent memory was that of D’Arcee Neal, a man with cerebral palsy who was forced to crawl off the plane to find a bathroom when United failed to provide the wheelchair he’d requested.
It was the sharp uptick in number of complaints that drew the attention of the Department of Transportation and caused them to launch their investigation. Most of the complaints filed pertain to Houston International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Newark International Airport, and Dulles International Airport. Because of the investigation’s outcome, United has to spend $650,000 to better train their staff to help those passengers who have disabilities and to develop a program for smartphones that will allow the passengers themselves to request various types of assistance, including wheelchairs.