A woman said her wheelchair was left on an airport tarmac in the rain and a piece was broken after a JetBlue Airways flight.
Yomi Wrong tweeted that she was “abandoned” by JetBlue employees at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, after arriving from San Francisco. She shared Wednesday that “all the elevators are broken so they have no way to bring the chair up.”
Wrong told USA TODAY she has a $30,000 custom power wheelchair, which she checked at the gate in San Francisco.
But when she landed in Newark, she waited 15 minutes before the JetBlue crew asked if she would be willing to deplane.
WHAT’S EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT?Sign up for our trending newsletter to get the latest news of the day
THIS TRAVELER LIVED IT:Imagine being ‘forgotten’ in an airport basement for hours.
“I used an isolate chair which is a very narrow, uncomfortable mobility device that I can’t actually operate myself. Somebody has to push me.” Wrong said.
“We waited and waited. My sister was getting very, very angry. She couldn’t believe that my chair wasn’t there, and nobody could tell us where it was. They kept saying, ‘well, we have to bring it up on the elevators.’ Like, well, what elevator?
JetBlue ‘broke my chair’
As Wrong and her sister continued to ask about her wheelchair, she said “at one point, one JetBlue employee gave my sister a lecture about respectability and the appropriate way to express her anger.”
Her sister later “went stomping off. I didn’t know where she went.”
“A little bit over an hour later, here comes my sister,” Wrong said. “She found an elevator and looked through an emergency door and saw my chair sitting on the tarmac in the rain. They had just left it there.”
wrong shared on Twitter that the airline “broke my chair.”
“I’m holding a piece of it in my lap on the drive into manhattan,” Wrong tweeted.
She told USA TODAY on Thursday that the chair is still functional, but she is not sure if she can reattach the piece, or if it will have to be repaired.
Twitter thread with #DisabilityTwitter goes viral
The thread quickly went viral on Twitter, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes.
JetBlue in a statement to USA TODAY said, “while this customer’s wheelchair was never lost, elevator issues led to the delay of its retrieval and for that we deeply apologize.”
“We will continue to engage with our customer directly related to any potential damage to the device, as we want to ensure we resolve this issue,” the airline added.
MY PATAGONIA TRIP:‘The right wheelchair will take you anywhere a pair of legs can’
TRAVELING WITH DISABILITIES:What people with disabilities and their families wish fellow travelers would know and do
people with disabilities can face anxiety and extensive preparation before even arriving at an airport. Accessibility issues, triggers and a slate of other factors can all pose challenges for travelers with disabilities.
“(Air travel) really isn’t enjoyable. But when you add ableism and sort of the structural, oppressive issues involved with transporting mobility devices, it is like a separate hell. I have to psychologically prepare myself to be treated with second class status whenever I engage with an airline,” Wrong told USA TODAY.
“There is zero consistency,” she added. “I never, ever know what the experience will be like. I don’t know if I will be injured. I don’t know if I will get in my chair and it will fall apart. If I leave the gate and have something malfunction that then leads to an injury. Psychologically, it wears on you. It is traumatizing. It is infuriating, and it makes me not want to travel.”
Contributing: Gabriela Miranda
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism