Trey Harris suffers from a spinal condition which impairs his ability to walk and gets around on a segway.
While planning his honeymoon, he says he spoke to the TSA and to United’s Special Needs desk and that both confirmed he’d be able to bring his segway onboard his flight. He says United documented his reservation.
Harris made it through security just fine with the segway, but at the gate United refused to let him bring it onboard and didn’t allow him to gate check it either.
He made the best of the situation and rented a scooter for the cruise, however
Harris says he got a series of voicemails saying that he had abandoned a hazardous item at an airport—that is, the Segway. He was told he could face both criminal charges and fees for the disposal of the device.
Ultimately United didn’t call the police on him, and he even got his segway back.
Contrast that with this story from last year where a couple boarded their Etihad flight in Manchester, UK bound for Australia via Abu Dhabi. They got a missed call on their cell phone, which they noticed as they were about to turn it off for the flight.
Ok, so they didn’t turn off the phone quite when they were supposed to because the plane was taxiing when they got a text “saying their grandson was in intensive care and they needed to get there.”
The grandparents told the crew, and the captain decided to go back to the gate to let them off. Etihad even “he couple’s baggage and assisted them back through the airport.”
According to Travel Weekly, the couple’s car was collected from the car park and taken to arrivals so they could drive off straightaway.
The flight still went ahead after the couple got off.
Unfortunately, their grandson died the following day on March 31.
I don’t know whether risking a delay is right or wrong in any given case, especially since I don’t know the costs to other passengers on the plane. And even a few minutes’ delay is incredibly costly to an airline. But it was sure wonderful for these two passengers that the captain made this decision.
It sort of reminds of the Delta pilot who returned to the gate so a family could get on and make it to a funeral.
And it contrasts with Southwest Airlines which two years ago didn’t turn around.. and instead forced a woman to turn off her phone when she got texts that her husband during pushback saying he was going to kill himself.