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

United Airlines has apologized to D’Arcee Neal, a disabled man with cerebral palsy, after he was forced to crawl off of the plane with no assistance from the flight staff.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, Neal took a five-hour flight from San Francisco to Washington. When he arrived at the airport, a mix-up at the gate left Neal with no aisle chair to help him depart from the plane.

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 (his disability makes it impossible for him to use the one on the plane) 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, waiting 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.”

A United Airlines spokesperson said there was originally an aisle chair at the gate, but it was later removed by mistake, leaving Neal with no other option but to crawl, according to CNN.

“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,” United Airlines said in a statement. “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.”

Surprisingly, Neal didn’t even contact the airline. Instead, a flight attendant, who later felt sorry for what had happened to Neal, reported the incident. The airline then called Neal the next day to offer their apologies, along with $300 in compensation.

“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,” he said. “I just hope they learn from this,” he said.

Neal said the incident went viral after he shared a post on Facebook describing what had happened and saying how pleased he was that the airline had reached out to him.

While many people have reached out to Neal, questioning whether he will file a lawsuit against United Airlines, he said he still doesn’t know what he will do. He said a lawsuit may bring more attention to similar incidents, and may make the airline change some of their practices.

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,” the airline added.

Do you think United Airlines apology to D’Acree Neal is enough? Leave your comments below.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]

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