United Apologizes To Passenger With Cerebral Palsy Who Had To Crawl Off Plane

D'Arcee Neal had to crawl half the length of the plane to reach his wheelchair.

United Airlines apologized on Tuesday to D'Arcee Neal, a man with cerebral palsy who was forced to crawl off a plane when the airline did not have a wheelchair available for him.

Last week, United failed to provide an aisle-sized wheelchair to help Neal, who was flying to Washington's Reagan National Airport, exit the aircraft. After waiting some time for assistance, Neal had to use the bathroom, so he crawled half the length of the plane, from his seat to the doorway, to reach his regular wheelchair.

United said in its statement Tuesday that the aisle wheelchair had been available, but that a staff member had mistakenly removed it.

"We made a mistake," the airline said. "When we realized our error -- that Mr. Neal was onboard and needed the aisle chair -- we arranged to have it brought back, but it arrived too late. We've apologized to him for that delay." 

O'Neal previously called the incident "humiliating," adding that "no one should have to do what I did."

In its statement, United noted that it provides a "24-hour Disability Desk" for customers with disabilities to request assistance and accommodations. It also offered Neal $300 to compensate for the error.

"We hope that all of our customers understand that this situation doesn't reflect the level of service we provide to customers with disabilities each day," the airline said. 

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