"That's Someone's Lifeline" — Video Shows American Airlines Workers Mishandling Wheelchairs

In a now-viral video, workers at American Airlines were seen severely mishandling wheelchairs and the internet has already had enough.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Nov. 20 2023, Published 3:21 p.m. ET

People who use wheelchairs to get around, no matter the reason, have immense challenges getting around the airport these days. While plenty of us have horror stories about having to navigate busy airports, terrible in-flight service, and the worst fellow flyers imaginable, wheelchair users can have difficulty simply being able to fly in the first place without airlines weighing down on them.

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In many cases, airline workers may flat-out refuse to accommodate wheelchair users and make them feel completely disregarded in terms of what they need and don't need while flying.

It's bad enough that the users themselves often get mistreated, but not even the wheelchairs are safe. In a shocking video on TikTok, American Airlines workers were seen severely mishandling wheelchairs when loading them onto the plane. Check out the shocking footage.

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People are horrified at how American Airlines workers handled wheelchairs.

Haw on TikTok (@haez93) shared the appalling footage in a video that was posted in late November 2023. They'd been watching from a window as plane runway workers from American Airlines were roughly handling multiple wheelchairs.

According to them, the workers were laughing as they roughhoused with the wheelchairs.

Their video description reads, "Dang, after I saw them do this and laugh with the first two wheelchairs, I had to get it on film. That is not what I'd call 'handling with care' for someone's mobility device."

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Sure enough, the way the workers move the wheelchairs is absolutely disgraceful. In the video, they can be seen sliding the devices down a steep ramp at considerably high speeds. The ramp is designed in such a way that it's meant to stop at a metal barricade at the bottom, although that stop is more like a full-blown crash.

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But as if that crash wouldn't already damage the wheelchair on its own, the chair in the video completely flips and tumbles into the air at the moment of impact. It lands heavily on the ground and continues to tumble, undoubtedly causing even more damage.

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The way these wheelchairs are being treated at American Airlines is simply awful. After all, anyone using them probably needs them to get around at all. The safe transport of these wheelchairs shouldn't have to be a whim, especially if the ones in charge of that safe transport are reportedly taking actual amusement in mishandling them.

Shocking absolutely no one, American Airlines has earned the ire of the internet. In the comments section of the original video, TikTokers are absolutely appalled at how the wheelchairs are being handled.

"These chairs cost upwards of $3k plus," one user complained. "They aren't easily replaceable and insurance only covers new chairs every five years."

Another TikToker commented, "As a wheelchair user, seeing this will stop me from ever traveling out of fear [that] this will happen."

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The conversation over the video has even made the jump to Twitter. In a tweet containing the same footage, people continued to complain about the state of wheelchair accommodations at American Airlines and how difficult it is to obtain one in general.

"It never should have gone down that ramp at all," one person wrote. "It should have been carried down the stairs."

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Another person commented, "Custom wheelchairs are extremely expensive and take forever to receive. It can be six months to a year after ordering to get one."

This really shouldn't have to be a PSA, but wheelchair users deserve to be treated fairly by an airline. That includes making sure that their wheelchairs make it to a destination in one piece, literally.

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