A viral video showing baggage handlers at Miami International Airport sending a wheelchair falling onto the tarmac prompted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to promise that his department would investigate the incident.
The clip, originally posted on TikTok and re-uploaded elsewhere, shows an American Airlines baggage handler pushing the wheelchair into a baggage chute. He slips on the track, hits a door intended to stop suitcases, knocks it over and falls to the ground.
“This is completely unacceptable. We will investigate,” Buttigieg said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This is exactly why we are taking steps to protect passengers who use wheelchairs. Everyone deserves to travel safely and with dignity.
Buttigieg was responding to a post that received 7 million views and nearly 50,000 likes that showed an airline employee sending a wheelchair down a ramp, and it falling to the ground.
The video comes as wheelchair users and accessibility advocates have raised concerns about their equipment being mishandled and broken during travel.
“Wheelchair users have been trying for ages to raise awareness about the fact that their wheelchairs break so often when they fly and the devastating impact it has on them,” Becca Peter said in a article on
Buttigieg’s post links to a page that describes the Department of Transportation’s disability policies. The disability policy priorities were announced and adopted in July 2022 during a celebration of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the release said.
The ministry said it had created four focus areas to better include people with disabilities, including “enabling safe and accessible air travel; enable multimodal accessibility of public transportation facilities, vehicles and rights-of-way; provide access to well-paying jobs and business opportunities for people with disabilities and enable accessibility to electric and automated vehicles.
Data from the Government Accountability Office shows that the number of disability-related complaints filed with the Department of Transportation increased from 2020 to 2021. In November 2022 alone, additional data shows that airlines mishandled 941 wheelchairs.
The Air Carrier Access Act was passed in 1986 and prohibits discrimination based on disability in air transportation and requires airlines to accommodate passengers’ needs.
A bill was introduced in February by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) that aims to increase transparency around disability-related complaints for airline passengers.
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