Who is Bri Scalesse? Disabled model blasts Delta Airlines for 'breaking her wheelchair'

Bri Scalesse, who became a paraplegic at age six, did not share details of the Delta flight she had taken but confirmed that her wheelchair had been damaged beyond repair


                            Who is Bri Scalesse? Disabled model blasts Delta Airlines for 'breaking her wheelchair'
Bri Scalesse (L), who became a paraplegic at age six, confirmed that her wheelchair had been damaged beyond repair (Instagram/@briscalesse, Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A model and disability rights advocate has revealed how Delta Airlines broke her wheelchair just weeks after her friend was involved in a similar incident with the same airline and went viral on social media.

Bri Scalesse, who became a paraplegic at age six, did not share details of the Delta flight she had taken but confirmed that her wheelchair had been damaged beyond repair. Wheelchairs are not allowed in the cabin area owing to standard airline protocols, which dictate that they must be transported in the hold along with cargo and luggage. However, this comes with an added risk of damage and mishandling. In the past three years, US airlines have reported at least 15,000 wheelchairs that were either damaged or lost in transit, the Washington Post reported.

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According to Scalesse, there is no quick fix for her predicament. “When I spoke to the representative from the wheelchair repair company they said, ‘You know this will take a really long time to replace.’ So, today my freedom and independence were taken away,” she said in a TikTok video that went viral. “I don’t know how I’m gonna live my life.”



 

Delta Airlines faced a major backlash on social media following the incident, considering this was not the first time they had damaged a wheelchair.

"@delta How, how, HOW are you taking away people's livelihoods with your mishandling of wheelchairs and not holding yourselves accountable? How has this happened over and over in such a short time span? You NEED TO MAKE THIS RIGHT," one enraged Twitter user wrote.

"This is the 4th or 5th story I’ve seen in ONLY the past month of airlines breaking people’s wheelchairs! This HAS to stop! How does this even happen and why are they handled with such little regard? It makes me scared to ever fly again. #DisabilityPride," another added.

“This week’s post about @Delta’s abuse comes from @briscalesse on TikTok whose wheelchair was irreparably damaged and was told that a replacement is not happening any time soon. Wheelchairs are an extension of one's body. This is inhumane," a third chimed in.



 

 



 

 



 

Meanwhile, this also isn't the first time Scalesse has been involved in an incident such as this. Just six weeks ago, the model posted a video about the same airline damaging her friend Gabrielle deFiebre's wheels.

“The wheel looked like it was hanging, and I immediately turned away because I didn’t want her to see my literal panic," she told Buzzfeed. "When I turned back around, I just wheeled over to her and held her and all three of us traveling together cried. It was so painful to see her realize that her literal way of living life was broken.”

“I thought recording the moment, for our friends, or to send to the airline, or maybe even for the internet, could be important [for people] to see the reality of what flying is like for many wheelchair users," she added.



 

Scalesse thanked her fans and followers for their help and support in a follow-up on Instagram Stories. The revealed that she will be receiving an exact replica of her broken wheelchair paid for by Delta Airlines. “This should never happen to any of us, this should never happen to anyone. This is a systemic issue with airlines and it really really needs to change,” she said, adding, “I don’t want to be afraid to travel."



 

While responding to the previous incident involving deFiebre, Delta Airlines had written, "We must do better." However, the airline has yet to comment on the latest incident.

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