A disabled high school football coach is standing up to United Airlines after he says he was forced to scoot off several flights when they failed to provide proper wheelchair accommodations.
Tyler Schilhabel, paralyzed from the chest down, has been in a wheelchair for nearly nine years.
He just finished his first season coaching football at his alma mater, Independence High School.
He and his wife Courtney recently returned from their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.
On the couple’s first layover in Chicago, they had less than an hour to make their connecting flight to Punta Cana.
However, when they landed, United had no aisle wheelchair ready and no ramp at the gate.
In their time crunch, Schilhabel says a flight attendant carried him off the plane.
“I felt a little humiliated in the moment. It was disheartening that it actually happened, especially when I had done my due diligence to let them know that I needed the accommodations,” Schilhabel said.
When they landed in Punta Cana, it was the same situation. This time, Schilhabel says he was forced to scoot on his rear down the entire length of the plane and hop step by step down the stairs.
“For this to happen as often as it has, especially within United, I feel like it’s just negligence,” Schilhabel said.
Then on their way back from vacation–it happened twice more.
“It had us down for little bit at the beginning of our honeymoon, but we moved past it,” Schilhabel said. “Then to have it happen again on our way back, it just wasn’t a coincidence this happened. It seems like it’s just an issue or flaw within the organization.”
When Schilhabel took to social media, he says multiple people around the country expressed that they had similar issues with United.
In a statement, United Airlines said:
“We are proud to operate an airline that doesn’t just include people with disabilities but welcomes them as customers. In fact, thousands of people with disabilities fly United every day. That said, this incident falls far short of our own high standard of caring for our customers. We have been in touch with the customer to apologize and assure him that the errors that led to this situation are extremely rare.”
However, Schilhabel disagrees. He says on his past six United flights, the airline has been late with an aisle chair or didn’t have one at all. He adds that he hasn’t had this problem with other airlines before.
“All the things that i ran into, I hope they find a way to fix those things,” Schilhabel said.
United has since offered thousands in travel vouchers and a flight refund, but Schilhabel has declined both.
He says he will never fly United again.
His mission is just to make sure every airline and airport gate offers wheelchair accessibility.