While United Airlines may break guitars, Delta Air Lines has been accused of breaking a very special wheelchair.
Delta Breaks Wheelchairs
Gabrielle DeFiebre was traveling on Delta from New York (JFK) to Phoenix (PHX). DeFiebre requires a wheelchair for mobility and claims the wheelchair was in “perfect condition” when she left it by the aircraft door in New York. But when she landed in Phoenix she found that the wheels were warped and mangled.”
That left DeFiebre in tears. A friend traveling with her posted the following video on TikTok, which has gone viral:
A girl I know had her power-assist wheels for her wheelchair (that she needs to be independent) broken by Delta. This is an ongoing issue that has happened to countless people in chairs flying with different airlines. You can’t replace something custom made for you in a day. pic.twitter.com/yjYD5QmZ0l
— Beak (@AstridLevinson) May 22, 2021
A Delta spokesperson conceded the damage and apologized:
“We’re so sorry that her wheelchair was damaged and have been in touch with her directly to make this right, including support to make repairs to her device. We know our customers with disabilities rely on Delta for their travel needs, and we fell short here. We’re conducting a full investigation of what happened because we must be better.”
But DeFiebre has complained, “It has been almost a week since my wheel was damaged, and Delta never provided a set of loaner wheels.”
Meanwhile, even the International Air Transport Association (IATA) offered its condolences and promised an education campaign to minimize future incidents:
We are engaging the accessibility & aviation communities to better this situation for travelers with wheelchairs. The handling of mobility aids is a key area we are addressing for improvement – & there will be more news to come on this. Follow us for more. 2/2
— IATA (@IATA) May 25, 2021
DeFiebre’s friend noted on TikTok, “People in wheelchairs live in constant fear of airlines breaking our wheelchairs because it happens so often. I am so tired of watching my community suffer.”
It sounds like Delta will make it right, especially after the publicity, but like the United Airlines guitar incident, it is reasonable to ask why this happened in the first place.