A disabled Army veteran claims she was forced to sit in urine-soaked clothing because American Airlines personnel delayed getting her off an airplane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Wheelchair user Dawn Wilcox told msnbc.com that she was flying from New York to Dallas on Saturday morning on her way home to Killeen, Texas, after attending a friend’s funeral. She said she informed the flight attendants shortly before landing that she needed to be taken off the plane first so that she could go to the bathroom.
“They landed and started letting people off,” said Wilcox. “I said, ‘Ma’am, I’m really about to go in my pants.’ I was almost in tears. They’d already let three quarters of the people off and it was too late, I’d already wet my pants.”
Wilcox said when she did get into a wheelchair and off the plane, she was told by an airline supervisor that there was an aisle chair onboard and that she could have used the lavatory on the plane. “But no one told me about that,” said Wilcox. “It was never offered to me.”
In a statement about the incident, American Airlines said it reached out to Wilcox and apologized to her for her “discomfort and overall experience with us.” But American Airlines spokesperson Tim Smith said the airline is continuing to look into this event because flight attendants reported a different version of the story.
“Our flight attendant offered an onboard wheelchair to Ms. Wilcox to use to access the lavatory,” said Smith, “but she declined in favor of her own wheelchair.”
Wilcox said once inside the airport, an airline supervisor offered to let her use a club room shower to clean up. “But I didn’t have any clothing to change into and they would not give me anything. Instead they wanted to give me a food voucher or a $100 credit to fly another time.”
Eric Lipp, executive director of the Chicago-based Open Doors Organization, an advocacy organization for travelers with disabilities, said onboard aisle chairs are commonly used by travelers with disabilities.
On its website, the Department of Transportation clearly defines the responsibilities of travelers, airlines and airports to meet the needs of disabled fliers.
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