This just in, United unveiled a new search tool for passengers with wheelchairs as strides are made to make air travel a smooth venture for the handicapped.
United Airlines Unveils New Tool for 2024
United Unveiled a New Search Tool for Passengers with Wheelchairs
An estimated number of 5.5 million Americans use wheelchairs and for them, air travel is about to get a bit easier, as the top U.S. carrier, United unveiled a new search tool for passengers with wheelchairs. Recently United Airlines announced that it will release a new search filter on its website that will make air travel a bit more seamless for travelers with mobility vehicles.
The filter is expected to launch in the coming year of 2024 and will allow customers to input the dimensions of their mobility vehicles into their flight search. Once they will input all their details the site will pull up all the flights flying from their departure city to the selected destination that will be able to accommodate as well as safely transport their wheelchair. This will be quite helpful as Cargo hold door sizes vary from plane to plane and not all can handle motorised wheelchairs. Linda Jojo, who is the executive vice president and chief customer officer at United, stated that:
“By offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane, we can give them the peace of mind they deserve when they fly with us.
“Plus, collecting this information ahead of time ensures our team can handle these special items with proper care and attention.”
United Airlines Innovation for 2024: Making Travel Easy for All
United stated that in case the plane for the travelers’ preferred route Is not a match for their wheelchair, they can book an itinerary that works for their mobility devices and United Airlines will refund the difference in fare price if it is more costly. To qualify for the reimbursement, the two flights have to be on the same route, departing on the same day. The travelers will also need to complete a form after flying in order to receive the funds.
In a recent statement, United Airlines also announced that the company as well as its Accessible Travel Advisory Board will begin a pilot program of six months at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Huston, in order to determine the better ways that they can adapt to accommodate customers in case their mobility device gets delayed or damaged while traveling.
United is launching these programs in response to the lengthy investigation carried out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The investigation was carried out when a complaint was filed against United Airlines after it had mishandled the wheelchair of a passenger and not just any passenger, but Engracia Figueroa who is a disability rights activist as well as the president of Communities Actively Living Independent and Free. Her wheelchair, costing about $30,000, which was specially designed to support a spinal cord injury and leg amputation was damaged during a flight aboard the United Airlines in the year 2021, according to a statement given by the disability rights organisation, Hand in Hand.
Three months after the incident Engracia Figueroa, unfortunately, passed away. Hand in Hand claimed that Engracia Figueroa’s untimely demise stemmed from sitting in a broken manual wheelchair, as she waited for a loaner motorised wheelchair at the Los Angeles International Airport following the destruction go her personal wheelchair at the hands of the United Airlines. Hand in Hand stated that as Engracia Figueroa was unable to balance herself properly without her wheelchair, she developed a pressure sore that later became infected. Even though doctors strived to remove the infected tissue and bone, unfortunately, Engracia Figueroa did not make it.
Better Traveling for the Handicapped
This initiative that United Airlines is taking after the loss of Engracia Figueroa was a long time coming. Every year airlines damage thousands of mobility scotters and wheelchairs just because they aren’t equipped well to care for them. In August 2023, airlines in the United States mishandled more than 1,100 mobility scooters and wheelchairs. Addressing the changes being instituted by United Airlines, U.S Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg said:
“Everyone ought to be able to travel safely and with dignity, and I’m glad that United is taking steps to improve their service for passengers who use wheelchairs.
“For our part, we at the U.S. Department of Transportation will continue working to make air travel safer and more accessible for people with disabilities, and for the millions of Americans who step on a plane every day.”
Department of Transportation is also setting some rules in place that will aid disabled travelers on their journey. Some of these rules include adding more wheelchair ramps and accessible toilets in airport terminals, making lavatories on all new single-aisle planes accessible, creating rules that would require the airport staff to be properly trained to handle disabled passengers, and also allowing the passengers to travel in their wheelchairs.
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