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You don’t mind that we’ve relocated your legs, do you?

mannequin legs hanging from a beamI’m on a Southwest Airlines flight that has just landed in Sacramento, arriving ten minutes late from Denver. I have a two-and-a-half-hour layover before my last leg home to Seattle. In usual fashion, I’m the last person departing the aircraft because I have to wait for my wheelchair to be brought up from the cargo hold.

I’m waiting…and waiting…and…hmmm….

It seems longer than usual so I ask a flight attendant about my chair. I know it wasn’t left in Denver because from my window seat on the plane I saw them load it into the cargo hold. That’s a little nerve-wracking to watch, by the way.

According to recent data reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines break an average of 25 wheelchairs or motorized scooters per day. Over 700 times per month airline employees damage or misplace someone’s personal and essential form of mobility. Do you think they would be more careful if it belonged to their mother, child, spouse, or friend?

Finally, a gate agent steps aboard the plane and says, “They’ve already taken your wheelchair to your gate. We’ll just take you in one of our chairs.” Ummm, excuse me? What gate?? Remember that part about a two-and-a-half hour layover? My wheelchair with the motor is a $15,000 ride and acts as a stand-in for my legs. I’m not at all comfortable with someone arbitrarily deciding where it goes without me. Besides, I don’t want to go the gate. I want to go the bathroom, take my dog to the relief area, and get some food. In other words, just like anyone else, I have opinions about where I go. Read more