United Airlines is conveniently remorseful for a lapse of judgement and lack of servitude for a Black passenger with cerebral palsy, who had to take DIY measures just to use the restroom.
D’Arcee Neal endured the five-hour flight from San Francisco back to his home of Washington D.C. where his condition disallowed him to use the plane’s small toilet facilities. Upon landing, Neal was reportedly told that the specially designed wheelchair for narrow flight cabins called an aisle chair was removed from the gate for whatever reason. After receiving word that it would be another 15-20 minutes before it was readily available, Neal, who had been already been waiting 20 minutes on the now empty plane, went ahead and crawled his way to relief, as the United Airlines flight crew looked on.
“I was trying to get them to understand that this is why I don’t want to wait another 15 to 20 minutes,” Neal, 29, a former employed for the organization United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) told CNN. “I expected them to ask to assist me, but they just stared,” he said.
The biggest irony of the situation is possibly Neal was arriving from a meeting on disability access policy in San Francisco. Then came the inevitable apology statement from United Airlines after one of the flight attendants reported the ridiculous scenario.
“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. 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,” the company said. They also gave Neal a $300 voucher. The manager who allowed the incident has also been suspended.
“I didn’t contact United at all, because I honestly didn’t believe they cared,” Neal continued. “I just hope they learn from this.”