Cory Lee, born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is a guy who loves to travel. He enjoys traveling by plane, and shares some advice for fellow wheelchair users to assist them on what to do if their mobility device gets damaged by an airline.
“Disembarking from a flight only to find that your treasured items are lost or damaged is one of the worst fears for any traveler. In fact, the fear that their wheelchair might get damaged is what stops many wheelchair users from flying at all! However, it’s a shame that this preoccupation over what can go wrong is stopping so many people from having the amazing adventures they deserve and dream of. “
Cory suggest following these steps if you have a wheelchair that gets damaged on a flight:
Know Your Rights
You have rights, and those rights matter! It’s important to do your research on what those rights are and the laws that pertain to those rights as a person who uses a mobility device.
Try Your Best Not To Panic
Like Cory says, “The more pleasant you are, the more pleasant your experience with the airline’s representatives will be. This means that even if you’re tired, upset, and angry – which you probably will be after a long flight on which your wheelchair got damaged – it’s best to stay firm yet cool, calm, and collected. The situation is only as stressful as you make it, so convince yourself that everything will be alright after a short chat with the airline, because chances are, it will be.”
Be Sure To Document The Evidence
It is important to take pictures and/or video (with dates and timestamp) of the damage to the chair as soon as possible. This documentation will be beneficial if you choose to file a report later on.
Find A Representative Of The Airline --- Complaints Resolution Official
Before leaving the airport, stop by the airline’s desk and ask to speak to a representative. When talking to that representative inquire about airline specific rules, as these rules may differ among airlines.
Cory suggests speaking to the CRO (Complaints Resolution Official) as this person will be most knowledgeable of accessibility laws related to airlines. He states that the purpose of a CRO is to “resolve any accessibility-related issues on the spot, and they will be able to guide you through the process of getting their specific airline to fix your wheelchair.”
File A Report
Filing the report of the damage to your chair is a time sensitive manner. It is best to complete this step as quickly as possible. A representative can help with the process, but make sure to ask them how long you have to file an initial incident report.
Formal And Written Complaints
Cory reminds others to stay on top of the issue and cover your bases. It is important to file formal and written complaints as it shows the airline that you know your rights and you're staying on top of it! Cory also suggest contacting the U.S. Department of Transportation as your experience may help influence how future laws and policies are written.
Cory hopes that more wheelchair users will become comfortable traveling by airplane. “In summation, yes – it can take a while for matters like wheelchairs being damaged by an airline to be resolved. However, because of the set process, it’s quite simple and straightforward if you know your rights and you remember the steps above.”
Did you find Cory’s steps helpful? Share them with your friends!