Southwest Airlines - Airlines - Southwest 561 from Providence, RI disabled passenger treated differently

Posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2000 at 12:00am CDT by a66de67a

Product: flight 561 from Providence, Rhode Island

Company: Southwest Airlines

Category: Airlines

Subject: Disabled passenger treated differently!

I booked a flight for my daughter with a travel agent on Southwest 561 from Providence, Rhode Island to Tampa on Friday July 14, 2000. She was assisted onto the plane by my sister 10 minutes before take-off. This was a 12.55 p. m. flight. My daughter's wheelchair was then taken to baggage. After my sister left the plane, she proceeded home to Massachusetts feeling comfortable that Kelly ( my daughter) would be fine now that she was on the plane and sure to take off any time now. The flight was cancelled until further notice and the passengers were all invited to exit the plane back to the gate to wait. This was everyone except my daughter as her wheelchair was in the cargo hold and she could not walk. At 3:00 Kelly called me from Providence and left a brief message about being late. I by then was on route to Tampa and did not know that there was a problem because my sister called me at 2:30 and assured me that she put Kelly on the plane and all was well. No one said anything about a delay. My daughter is 28 years old and is wheelchair bound, but lives independently and can funtion well as long as she has her chair. No one offered Kelly to get out of that seat to go to the bathroom or to get her chair or even an airport wheelchair. She sat in the airplane seat for 8 hours until it finally landed in Tampa at 9:00 P. M. Everyone in the plane, except another lady with a wheelchair and Kelly had the choice to leave the plane to bathroom or eat at the airport while waiting for take- off. Kelly called my Mom in Massachusetts and told her she was using a cell phone that belonged to someone else and that she was still in Providence at 5:00 p.m. At that time my sister called Southwest Airlines 800 # to ask them if Kelly was okay, was she allowed to go to the bathroom, was she comfortable? She was assured that all would be taken care of, not to worry. I was calling the 800# from Florida asking when the plane would take off and why was it delayed so long. I was told to call back every 20 minutes as they were up-dated that often. First I was told there was a storm in Florida holding the plane, second time I was told there was a storm in Rhode Island, thirdly I was told there was bad weather in both citie. When flight 561 had finally arrived I asked to speak to a Customer Relations Person, and explained about Kelly needing to be able to get to a ladies room, that I hoped with all the time involved that she would be humiliated if she was forced to sit in her own soil and was assured by the Customer Relations Man that from the computer log of conversations with my sister that all her needs would be met. I proceeded to walk down the jetway so I could be sure that Kelly would be able to get to the ladies room fast and was told that it was against the law for me to be there, that I would need to go back to the gate and wait for her there, as I stood there waiting to be told that Kelly was really okay and not in need, the gentleman from Customer Relations comes in from the outside staircase and proceeds to get on the plane. He then brings a stewardess to me to explain that Kelly was asked several times if all was okay, and that it was her cell phone that Kelly used to call. Soon after Kelly was brought up in her chair and we rushed to the ladies room as she was never asked if she needed to go to the bathroom the whole 8 hours, yes she was offered peanuts and drinks, but she knew if she drank she would need to go and knew she could not get her chair so was she expected to crawl??? The whole issue here could have been avoided if she had been given the same opportunity to go to the waiting area at the gate like all the the able passengers but for one reason or another she was not offered her chair or any other chair to use while waiting for the plane to take off. She was made to sit there in that seat for 5 hours waiting for take off and then another 3 hours of flying time. How do you think she felt? So much for the personalized service the airline advertises. I was told that " she should have an aide fly with her to meet her needs." If they had given her a wheelchair, her own or a borrowed one, she could have met her own needs, but they took her independence away and then she could not help herself. Whose fault is that? We have never had an aide for her in all the years Kelly flew, she does not need one, all she needed was a wheelchair. Is that too much to ask. So much for Southwest Airlines personal service. I would recommend to anyone flying on Southwest, Make sure you are not needy in anyway or dependant on a wheelchair to get where you need to go, because you won't get there. You will sit in your seat no matter how long it takes to get to your destination!!!!!!!!!!!!


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