United Airlines: No Fly Zone for People with Disabilities

United Airlines was fined $2 million on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation for its failure to provide proper accommodations for passengers with disabilities.


According to the DOT, the treatment of passengers with disabilities by America’s second-largest airline was investigated following “a significant increase in the number of disability-related complaints.” Among the allegations, the airline neglected to return wheelchairs to passengers in a timely manner or to assist passengers navigating through its airports and, in some cases, wheelchairs returned to passengers were even damaged.

“We expect this to greatly improve our ability to have wheelchairs where they need to be, when they need to be there, so that our customers can get on their way home or to their next destination with ease,” said United senior vice president of airport operations Jon Roitman in a statement.

But the company has a long way to go. Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating aspects of life for people with disabilities is travel, specifically at airports. Travel days consist of fighting through crowds, trying to get a hold of airlines to request someone to transport the chair to the bottom of the plane, transferring from their chair to one of the airport’s chairs, walking down a narrow aisle to squeeze into a seat and spending all flight wondering what part of the chair will break during the flight.

The DOT, in conjunction with disability advocates, aircraft manufacturers and the Association of Flight Attendants, is taking initial steps to curb this issue by negotiating possible implements to the in-flight experience of people with disabilities. From the limited space within the cabin of single-aisle aircraft to the cramped restrooms, it is nearly impossible for passengers with disabilities to access the facilities. Laurel Van Horn of the Open Doors Organization noted the industry’s trend of using single-aisle aircraft for cross-country flights is specifically hindering to this population by posing the question, “How many people want to go without using the restroom for that long”

Also echoing the issues of single-aisle planes is Eric Lipp, the executive director at Open Doors Organization. Lipp, who happens to have a disability, notes that passengers are supposed to be transferred to an aisle-chair and get pushed to the bathroom, but it is difficult to maneuver in single-aisle flights.

Some companies are making improvements already, though. Van Horn alluded to Airbus building A320s with SpaceFlex restrooms that are more accommodating for people with disabilities without compromising seating.

Among the other issues this potential committee will explore are providing closed captioning to in-flight entertainment for the hearing impaired, as well as defining boundaries for bringing service animals onto flights after numerous instances where passengers were “falsely claiming that their pets are service animals.”

Both the airplane manufacturers at Boeing (one of DiversityInc’s Top 25 Noteworthy Companies) and the national flight attendants union, the Association of Flight Attendants, publicly stated they would participate in the endeavors set out by the Department of Transportation. A spokesman for Boeing, Doug Alder, stated, “Boeing often sits on nation committees to offer input on future regulations, we stand ready to implement any airplane design changes, should they become necessary.”

President of the Association of Flight Attendants also released a statement on behalf of the 24,000 members in the union: “In terms of aircraft design, we have worked to promote configurations that provide realistic access to lavatories for disabled passengers. We encourage oversight of the FFA during this process and advocate to the agency, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers to ensure configurations recognize the challenges of a disabled person traveling.”

Richard Parker has been tapped to determine whether the advisory committee should be established. Once that decision is made the Department will have the authority to either set up the committee or to implement the changes on its own.

For a first-hand account on the struggles people with disabilities have to endure while traveling visit http://www.diversityinc.com/ask-the-white-guy/luke-visconti-ceo-newark-airport-hates-people-with-disabilities/

Latest News

degeneres, work, show

Leadership Lessons to be Gleaned from Ellen DeGeneres’ Toxic Workplace Scandal

Ellen DeGeneres began her daytime talk show’s 18th season with an apology after a summer of allegations against her that claimed her show promoted a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual misconduct and other mistreatment. In August 2020, three senior producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman…

COVID entrepreneur

Explosive New Growth in Small Businesses Due to COVID-19; America’s Police Force is Not Becoming More Diverse Despite BLM Movement; the Best and Worst Performing States in the 2020 Census; and More

Even with incredible nationwide unemployment rates, the creation of new small and diverse businesses has exploded due to COVID-19. Finally some news coming out of our pandemic: The Philadelphia Tribune reports that as bars and restaurants closed and stay-at-home orders were put into place earlier in 2020 to help fight…

Justice for Breonna not served; The essential rule of politics; Teen serves two months in jail for not doing homework; and More

Justice for Breonna not served as grand jury indicted officer who shot her with wanton endangerment — but not murder. “Outrageous and offensive.” Those were  by attorney to the family, Ben Crump to describe the grand jury’s decision in the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. While…

IBM, EEOC, age

EEOC Unearths Years of Intentional Age Discrimination within IBM

After a long investigation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revealed that IBM leaders had directed managers to replace older workers with younger ones. Between 2013 and 2018, nearly 86% of those considered for layoffs within the organization were older employees over the age of 40. The investigation showed…

Breathe March in Globe Park, New York, USA - 12 Sep 2020

Cities under attack from the Justice Department; Louisville bracing for the Breonna Taylor murder charge; Twitter reveals its racist side; and More

Justice department attacks three U.S. cities, declaring them anarchist zones — despite most of the protests that took place in each city being peaceful marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a move designed to pull federal funding from New York City, Seattle and Portland, OR, the…

ginsburg, supreme, court

The Lasting Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Plus the Four Biggest Issues Currently at Stake Following Her Death

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the nation’s highest court for 27 years, passed away Friday, Sept. 18 at the age 87. “As the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed…