United Airlines was plummeting after video of a passenger being violently dragged off of the plane went viral. Now, in a move that will likely cause further decline in United stock prices, a gay man was forced to leave behind his “previously-approved, DOT & TSA-allowed mobility device” on his honeymoon.
Trey Harris, a former employee of both Google and Amazon, lives with spondylitis, a type of autoimmune spinal arthritis which makes it difficult for him to walk, requiring him to sometimes use a cane and sometimes a mobility device made by Segway, reported RT.
Harris said in a blog post that the airline refused to allow him to board a flight with his mobility scooter in spite of reassurances from US air transport authorities. UA also refused to check the scooter onto plane’s cargo hold as oversized luggage, claims Harris.
Although Harris received authorization for the Segway mini-pro, he was barred from taking it with him on his honeymoon.
“I’d called United’s Special Needs desk well before the flight,” Harris wrote. “They asked about the device’s specs and gave me what sounded like the official OK.”
Harris went through the steps of then contacting the Transportation Security Administration Disabilities Desk for approval and he received an authorization email, he wrote. But apparently, someone at the boarding gate did not understand the memo. Harris wrote that he made it through the TSA checkpoint without a hitch, but at the boarding gate, after much back and forth over a typo in his official itinerary, the device was labeled a “hoverboard” and he was told it was not allowed on the plane. Despite his protestations that it was a Segway with a certified fire safety seal on it, he was not allowed to take it with him, reported The Advocate.
According to Harris, the captain came out to see what the issue was and told Harris they would take care of it, making it seem as though it would all be OK. Soon after, Harris received a text saying the flight was delayed due to “passenger disturbance.” In the end, the captain did not allow him to take it on the plane. Without time to call a friend to pick it up, he left the Segway at the airport.
“We take off, and my honeymoon starts with me sobbing for an hour, my husband consoling me,” Harris wrote.
Harris persevered with a rented mobility scooter in San Diego and enjoyed his honeymoon regardless. That is, until airport staff left numerous voicemail messages informing him that he could face fines and even criminal charges for “abandoning a hazardous material at an international airport,” that is, his Segway.
Upon his return to New Jersey, Harris was not arrested and even managed to be reunited with his Segway.
“An apology would be nice, but I’m not expecting miracles,” he wrote. “I’d just like them — or another airline, if they refuse — to assure me I’ll be allowed to bring my mobility device with me the next time I fly.”
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)