Theresa Purcell: American Airlines Forces Wheelchair-Bound Woman To Crawl Onto Flight, Now Fighting Her In Court

Theresa Purcell was forced to crawl onto an American Airlines flight when employees forgot to bring the ramp she needed, and now the wheelchair-bound woman is preparing to fight the airline company in court over the incident.

Purcell was taking a commuter flight to San Diego and was set to board in her wheelchair. But an employee stopped the woman and said that the plane didn’t have a ramp and there wasn’t enough time to set one up.

So Purcell was forced to crawl all the way down the tunnel and to her seat, an ordeal she said was humiliating.

“I was humiliated. It was embarrassing to have 50-something people watch you crawl into a plane,” Purcell said.

To make matters worse, Theresa Purcell said she had told American Airlines ahead of time that she was in a wheelchair and that she would need a ramp to get onto the flight.

American Airlines would apologize for the mishap.

“On behalf of US Airways and American Airlines, please accept our apologies for the difficulties Ms. Purcell experienced with her request for level entry boarding,” said Christy Garden, DOT Liaison, Customer Relations, American Airlines/US Airways Corporate Office said.

“We regret that a ramp was not requested so Ms. Purcell would be able to board the aircraft without going up the stairs, assistance should have been provided shortly thereafter. Based on what you have shared, it appears our employees didn’t provide the the attentive, courteous and professional service we expect as a company.”

The statement went on to admit that the airline violated the Air Carrier Access Act, which protects people with disabilities.

But when Theresa Purcell tried to ask for compensation in a letter through her attorney, the airline drew the line.

“Thank you for your letter of demand on behalf of Theresa Purcell. American Airlines will not be issuing any compensation for your client’s injuries claim.”

Purcell said the incident left her afraid. As an artist she travels often, but said she doesn’t plan to use American Airlines ever again.

“Is today another time where I have to climb onto an airplane again, where all these people have to watch me embarrass myself again, and I gotta be there, hoping please, I hope I never see these people again?” Purcell said.

Theresa Purcell is now taking America Airlines to court, seeking $2.5 million for the airline’s violation of the Air Carrier Access Act.

[Image via UberTopic]

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