Airports Featured Review - When Airport Wheelchair Attendants Behave Badly
We've had all sorts of problems with the wheelchair operation that serves the Atlanta airport. The attendants are seldom at the gate when our plane returns to Atlanta, and most egregiously, when they do arrive, some refuse to go beyond the baggage claim, although we're parked in a disabled spot close to the terminal. I wouldn't mind if they allowed me to push the wheelchair out to the parking area, but they refuse to do this. Those same attendants also refuse to wait while I get the car, exit, and return to the terminal to pick up my wife. In other cases they either ask for money or act upset when I don't tip them what they consider enough (that behavior itself may be illegal).
On one occasion when my wife's eighty-year-old sister visited Atlanta, an attendant pushed her wheelchair so fast I had to trot to keep up, and I'm in good shape. I was in constant fear of the wheelchair tipping over.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO
You don't have to accept rude or inappropriate behavior from wheelchair attendants. Their salaries are paid for by the airlines, and the airlines won't tolerate wheelchair attendants not serving your needs. The next time you have problems like those described above, get the name of the offending wheelchair attendant and ask your airline to speak to a Compliant Resolution Official (a CRO as they're called). All airlines have them at every airport; it's part of federal law. The CRO will help you resolve the problem and assure that your needs as a disabled person are met.
Incidentally, you are not required to tip wheelchair attendants. Tipping should be reserved for good performance only. And if a wheelchair attendant asks for money, report him or her to the airline's CRO.
If for some reason you're not satisfied with the airline's response to your problem, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have had similar experiences with wheelchair attendants, please contact me at email@example.com with the name of the airline, flight number, and date of travel. I'll forward the information to the airline you traveled.
© Copyright Ron Smith, 2006