United Airlines Apologizes After Man With Cerebral Palsy D’Arcee Neal Was Forced To Crawl Off Plane

United Airlines has apologized after a man with cerebral palsy was forced to crawl out of the plane with no assistance from the flight attendants.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, the incident took place at the Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday, October 20. D’Arcee Neal was waiting on the plane to use the restroom and had asked for an aisle chair, a narrow, specialized wheelchair to take disabled passengers down the airplane aisle, multiple times. He was repeatedly told to wait while one was recovered. Eventually, that was no longer an option, and after more than 15 minutes went by, Neal had to slide out of his seat and crawl off of the plane as the plane staff looked on.

“I was like, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ and I decided to get out and crawl down the plane to my chair, got in it and then just went about my business and left the airport,” said Neal.

“I was trying to get them to understand that this is why I don’t want to wait another 15 to 20 minutes,” Neal added. “I expected them to ask to assist me, but they just stared.”

According to a United Airlines spokesperson, there was an aisle chair waiting for Neal when his plane arrived at the airport. However, it was accidentally removed before it was his turn to disembark the plane.

“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,” the airline said in a statement, according to Fox 13 Salt Lake City. “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.”

Ironically, Neal had been in San Francisco to serve as a guest speaker to the car-hire company Uber. He was there to discuss accessible transportation for people with disabilities. After the incident, Neal said he simply went home.

“I didn’t contact United at all, because I honestly didn’t believe they cared,” he said.

Apparently, Neal never contacted the airline to report what had happened. Rather, one of the flight attendants actually felt bad for the incident later on and reported it to the company. The next day, a United Airlines representative contacted Neal to apologize. The representative told Neal that the manager on duty at the time had been suspended. They also offered Neal $300 in compensation, which he accepted.

“Quite frankly, I was just shocked, because this had happened a couple of times before (with various airlines), and no company had ever bothered to apologize when they’ve done something wrong,” Neal said.

Neal said he was pleased with the airline’s response. He said he never even complained about the incident, and that it only gained attention after he posted to Facebook saying he was glad the airline reached out to him. Since then, Neal has been contacted by several people asking him if he would like to file a lawsuit against the airlines. Neal said he has not decided if he will or not, but it may be a good idea to simply raise awareness to the issue.

“I just hope they learn from this,” he said. “This might be a good step to shed some light on the problem,” he added, “and I hope to continue to advocate for this.”

United Airlines said Neal’s experience “doesn’t reflect the level of service we provide to customers with disabilities each day.”

“Our employees — particularly our flight attendants and airport staff — are happy to arrange additional assistance for customers with disabilities on the day of travel,” they added.

[Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images]