Airline admits workers ‘failed’ disabled Virginia passenger, offers $150 voucher


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – WAVY worked to get answers from an airline about claims its employees mistreated a passenger in a wheelchair.

“I know it’s going to turn around and happen to another person, because they’re making light of it,” said Nancy Mercure, whose adult son, R.J., suffers from muscular dystrophy.

She often speaks on R.J.’s behalf, because it can be difficult to understand his speech. But he’s very clear about the way he said US Airways workers, now owned by American Airlines, treated him Sunday.

“They didn’t have [any] compassion for me,” he said.

While Nancy waited for R.J.’s flight to get in Sunday, she got a text from him with a disturbing list of problems: airline workers had mistreated, embarrassed, and abandoned him.

“I started crying. I was upset. Somebody’s supposed to be watching out for him,” she said. “Somebody’s supposed to be watching out for him. He can get hurt.”

The problems began in Detroit, when R.J. said agents dropped him in his seat twice when they tried to transfer him from his chair to his seat on the plane. They knocked off a shoe in the process, and according to R.J., never put it back on, and never adjusted his legs, which were left sticking out into the aisle for the entire flight.

When he arrived in Philadelphia, agents brought him to the wrong gate twice and left him there both times, which caused him to miss a flight. When he finally arrived in Norfolk, Nancy discovered another problem: his wheelchair was broken.

Furious, she filed complaints on his behalf, but received an auto-response saying it could take up to 30 days to investigate the claims.

Within hours of WAVY contacting American Airlines, Nancy said she received both a phone call and an email. In the email, an American Airlines customer service worker wrote:

We failed to provide transport assistance, left you unattended and also did not return your wheelchair in the condition it was received. Please accept my sincere apology for our service failures and any discomfort or inconvenience this caused.

The company also offered R.J. a $150 voucher to travel with the airline again.

R.J. said he’ll be rejecting that offer, not only because his ticket cost more than double the voucher, but also because he never again wants to fly with American Airlines.

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