United Airlines issued an apology to a disabled man, D'Arcee Neal, on Monday, Oct. 26, after he was forced to crawl off his flight last week.
Neal, who has cerebral palsy, was returning home to Washington, D.C., after he had met with Uber executives in San Francisco about its disabled accessibility policies. As passengers disembarked the plane, Neal was told that he had to wait for an aisle chair, a narrow wheelchair that fits in the tiny aisles of a plane. After 30 minutes of waiting, Neal was then told that he had to wait another 15 to 20 minutes for the chair.
However, he had to use the bathroom, and couldn't use the one on the plane. "I was trying to get them to understand that this is why I don't want to wait another 15 to 20 minutes," he recalled to CNN.
It got to the point that he couldn't wait another minute, and so, Neal got out and crawled. Meanwhile, flight attendants watched him inch his way to the corridor where a wheelchair awaited him. "I expected them to ask to assist me," Neal told CNN. "But they just stared."
Neal didn't file a complaint, but an anonymous good samaritan did so on his behalf. "I didn't contact United at all, because I honestly didn't believe they cared," he told the network. "Quite frankly, I was just shocked, because this had happened a couple of times before, and no company had ever bothered to apologize when they've done something wrong."
Neal's shocking story went viral after he posted about it on Facebook in the hopes to shed light on disabilities. United Airlines then issued an apology directly to Neal, and released a mass statement about the situation.
"As customers began to exit the aircraft, we made a mistake and told the agent with the aisle chair that it was no longer needed, and it was removed from the area," the airline said. "When we realized our error — that Mr. Neal was onboard and needed the aisle chair — we arranged to have it brought back, but it arrived too late."
United also offered Neal $300, which he gladly accepted. "I just hope they learn from this," he told CNN. "This might be a good step to shed some light on the problem."
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