Where Is The Wheelchair?

March 17, 2010

in Senior Stories

My mother recently came to Colorado to visit and help us pack for an up coming move. She was flying Delta airlines from Buffalo to Cincinnati, then on to Denver. My mother is 67 and has issues getting around airports, especially seeing how she rarely flies. She boarded her first flight at 5am (Buffalo time). She specifically requested a wheelchair while still in Buffalo to be there in Cinnci when she landed as she only had 45 mins between flights. When she landed in Cinnci she waited in the gate area for 20 mins for the wheelchair to arrive, finally giving up and trying to hoof it to her next gate. When she got there, the gate had closed and the plane was already pushing back. She explained the situation to the gate personal and they rebooked her on a flight headed to Atlanta, and finally on to Denver.

Before she boarded the Atlanta flight she again requested a wheelchair to meet her at the gate and help her get to her next gate. For those of you who have been to Atlanta, normal ablebodied people have issues getting from gate to gate there. But again, when she landed there was no one there to help her get to her next gate. Just as she was about to give up and try hoofing it again, the wheelchair guy showed up. He checked which gate she had to go to and when her flight was leaving, saying they had plenty of time. He apparently stopped a few times in route to talk with his fellow Delta friends. When they finally arrived at her gate, the doors had closed and the plane was pushing back. The gate attendant had been calling my mom’s name for a few minutes but finally had to close the flight.

By this time my mom is a nervous wreak, she doesn’t handle stress well, and was about to fall apart. The gate agent took pity on her and rebooked her AGAIN to a later Denver flight. The gate agent also told my mom that because of the issues she had they would allow her to board the plane first. Wow, so for screwing up my mother’s entire day and probably raising her blood pressure through the roof, they extended her a common courtesy EVERY OTHER AIRLINE DOES ANYWAYS to the point it’s common practice in the industry!

She again asked for a wheelchair to meet her in Denver; she didn’t know I was meeting her at the gate. When her plane landed, I was standing there when the gate agent walked back up the jetway (after speaking with the FA) and then phoned for a wheelchair. Umm, Delta apparently does not have modern tech-like phones to call ahead and have things ready when passengers arrive.

For her return trip she was flying United, via Chicago, which made me cringe a bit. But she said when she landed in Chicago the guy with the wheelchair was right there and got her to her next gate ASAP.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Salamandra March 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm

BS big time. Impossible. Get a life please


Cheran March 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

How is this BS? I see it happening to people all the time. Just a few weeks ago my flight was delayed boarding because Delta couldn't get their act together and get a wheelchair to a person waiting to deplane the previous flight.


Trixi March 18, 2010 at 5:20 am

Well, I would believe it all, until she said that she met her mom at the gate, which you are no longer allowed to do. You must have a boarding pass to get through security.

How horrible for her mom, however.


Julie March 21, 2010 at 3:48 am

you can get gate passes very easily for WCHR pax and children (UM), just ask and show your ID


Bob March 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I agree with Cheran. I've seen it happen to my mother-in-law. Some people feel the need to doubt every story for some reason.


Jody March 18, 2010 at 12:16 am

Definitely NOT BS. Salamandra — get a life yourself.

I too have seen this happen. I definitely feel sorry for the poor passenger who is left with no assistance.


DSD March 18, 2010 at 4:11 am

Myth Confirmed!!

I was flying to a wedding, from Columbus GA to Chicago changing planes in Atlanta. My parents were flying from Tampa to Chicago and we were to take the same Delta flight from Atlanta to Chicago. My parents were rerouted through Cinci because of mechanical troubles in Tampa. They requested that Delta give me a message telling me what happened and that they would meet me in Chicago. They requested Delta give me a message while they were in Cinci. I never got any message and spent most of the flight to Chicago on the air phone trying to figure where the heck my parents were as they weren't on the plane they were supposed to be on.


tdf March 18, 2010 at 5:16 am

This doesn't have anything to do with the wheelchair issue. The airline is responsible for helping with passenger accessibility, but it's no one's job to relay messages from your parents to you. How did you expect them to give you that message?


Tommy March 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

Geez Salamandra, or are you really Demotage in disguise?

Maybe you don't fly often or at all, I work at Phoenix Sky Harbor and the issue with no wheelchair at the gate is a daily, if not hourly problem.

Airports that have commercial jets coming in and out of tend to be very large and spread out. If you are unfamiliar with the terminal's layout and are in need of wheelchair assistance it's very likely that you would be delayed getting to your next gate, enough so that you miss your connection.

Potty mouths are unwelcome here, Go rinse your tonsils out with Zest.


AppleKornKid March 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

The story is very believable except for the part where the guy pushing her to the gate is taking his time talking to people when he should be trying to get her to the gate before her flight leaves. Most people who work for airlines are aware of when you have to be at the gate area. I would have been pretty peeved at Delta if this was my mother they did this too.


Julie March 21, 2010 at 4:24 am

at most airports it's an outside (contracted) company that is doing the wheelchair service, even in my small airport (SGF) we have an outside company handling the wheelchairs, Jackson Skycap Service.


Increasedosologist March 18, 2010 at 4:23 am

Almost every common area of the airport is covered by video surveylance. Depending on how recently it happened, a good lawyer may able to get an actual video of your mother standing there waiting as well as documentation of her requesting a whellchair (all phone calls to customer service are always recorded and recordings are kept for a very long time.) Your mother could get a very very nice Christmas present. In fact a mere letter to Delta, threatening that you intend to do something like that could get someone in your family a free airfare to your next vacation.


David March 18, 2010 at 4:34 am

Most wheelchair services at airports are served by a separate company, they do not work for the airlines, they work with them

Due to that there are alot of communication problems and there aren't enough workers meaning that half the time there will be no wheelchair, also the workers don't seem to be happy n they don't like their job so they don't do it the way it's meant


Susu March 18, 2010 at 4:35 am

Oh cut it out AppleKorn, You obviously don't fly or are so wrapped up in yourself that you don't see what is going on around you.

The airport in my city has wheelchair pushers that look like they are still in HS. These kids don't seem able to concentrate on their jobs whenever an a friend is in their line of vision.

The wheelchair pushers do not work for an airline, instead they work for an outside company who contracts with the airline to provide this service. In order to make a profit these contractors cut expenses where ever they can. This would explain why you have Junior stopping every 5 feet to chat with his pals when he is supposed to be working.


AppleKornKid March 18, 2010 at 5:28 am

Don't get all cranky pants on me there SuSu. Point taken. I fly all the time I just have never requested a wheelchair before.


rerere March 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

I don't see how this is Delta's fault. Every airline does this.


crella March 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

"Umm, Delta apparently does not have modern tech-like phones to call ahead and have things ready when passengers arrive."

Wheelchairs need to be reserved when you purchase your ticket. Telling them at your first airport that you need a wheelchair at the next one!? What the hell?

I go through Atlanta four times a year average, and yes, I have to say that one or two of the wheelchair guys escorting my mother HAVE stopped to chat along the way…I have had to say 'Guys, our flight…….' . We haven't missed a plane yet, though we were close to it once. 99% of them are great, there are just a couple of really laid-back characters. I could see it happening, especially if the grandma didn't speak up.


Bob March 18, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Agreed. Most of the wheelchair guys that I've dealt with have made extra efforts to make sure that we made our flights on time. They should always be tipped appropriately.


Demotage March 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm


How does it feel to have your head up your ass? Show me three examples where I called BS on a story. Not my thing.

I've comically had the opposite problem. I was travelling once with a girlfriend who was wearing an orthopedic boot because she'd broken her foot. She could walk fine, just slowly. All we wanted was to pre-board. So we checked the "needs assistance" box online when we made the rez.

At our originating airport, connecting airport, and destination airport, not only was their a wheelchair, but when we said we didn't want it, they insisted. So she rode a wheelchair even though she was perfectly capable. She was embarassed by the attention, but gosh bless AA.


Kad March 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I was picking Christina in Toronto a couple months ago and she related how she could get help with the wheelchair, but needed $10 for help with the luggage. So, a wheelchair, but no money at that time, no help for the luggage.

I, on the other side of the gate, didn't know about the problem until later. Since then I have joined a panel to improve services at YYZ. Not promising anything, but who knows. It might help future travelers.


Karl April 3, 2010 at 4:24 am

So, your mom needs a wheelchair to get around but she is ok to help you packing household goods?


Karl April 3, 2010 at 4:32 am

Btw, I love that when people have wheelchair stickers in cars and even worse in high step up pick up or SUV's parking in those reserved spots one can get a $ 250 ticket and walk very brisk to the Home Depot store


Liberator March 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I am happy to discover your prominent way of writing the article. Now you make it easy for me to comprehend and carry out the concept. Thank you for the article.


Catz September 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

my mom is on oxygen when walking,,,since she doesn't have oxygen for on the plane, we use a wheelchair to get her to the gate….and is capable of helping pack, with her oxygen on. Also,,,,don't judge handicap sticker means you need a wheelchair,,,if you have a heart condition, no one can see your handicap. I have a lung issue, and in cold weather have trouble walking,,,,once in the store, no problem,,,,,but some people feel its their right to comment on the few times I've parked in handicap spot., even tho I have a plate. geez


nova 2 hd apk January 5, 2012 at 2:34 am

Where Is The Wheelchair? Flights From Hell I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks! your article about Where Is The Wheelchair? Flights From Hell Best Regards Lawrence Agata


Yeah July 12, 2018 at 5:53 pm

What wheelchair-denying dicks. Perhaps karma will cause them to need a wheelchair too one day. And if that day comes, they'd better avoid airports at all costs, because they ain't gettin' none there! ;D


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