Disabled passenger rebukes Southwest Airlines for not allowing him to fly with his necessary lift device on board
Jon Morrow explained how he is unable to move from his wheelchair to an airplane without the help of a special lift device. He also had a letter from his physician stating that it would be extremely dangerous to transfer him by hand on an airplane.
A passenger with a disability has spoken out about how he was denied from boarding a Southwest flight due to his usage of a necessary medical device.
“I can’t transfer myself, and I have brittle bones, as well as a fused spine,” he wrote. “I also can’t move from the neck down. I also have a letter from my physician stating that it would be EXTREMELY dangerous to transfer me by hand on an airplane. There simply isn’t enough room for everyone to have proper body mechanics.”
Morrow said that as a solution to his problem, he purchased a $15,000 medical device called an Eagle Lift for himself last year.
According to the embattled passenger, the Eagle Lift allows him to be transported seamlessly and safely to a seat aboard the airplane. Morrow noted that the device is used in airports outside of the United States and that his caregivers are trained and certified on how to maneuver the device.
“It’s a special hoist built to work on all aircraft that transfers you from your wheelchair into an airline seat,” Morrow continued. “It’s faster, safer, and much more humane.”
Morrow asked Southwest if they could let his trained caregivers use the device to transport him onto an upcoming flight. While the airline had initially agreed to his request, they later reversed their decision.
“Mind you, this is a device that is standard operating procedure for all passengers in wheelchairs outside the U.S.,” he wrote. “It’s been used safely on thousands of flights. I’m also providing the Eagle and trained personnel at MY expense. Still they refuse. They dig in their heels. They tell me the decision cannot be appealed further."
“People who cannot transfer themselves should not be manhandled by firefighters,” he wrote. “They should be able to use a device built and tested for that exact purpose, recognized worldwide for its safety and efficiency.”
In conclusion to his lengthy post, Morrow wrote: “People in wheelchairs should be able to fly.”
On Tuesday, Morrow wrote in a follow-up post that he was able to take a Jet Blue flight as an alternative.
The Air Carrier Access Act mandates that airlines can’t refuse transportation on the basis of disability, and are “required to provide assistance with boarding, deplaning and making connections," per the Department of Transportation.
In a statement to People, a spokesperson for Southwest wrote: “Southwest Airlines takes pride in making air travel accessible to customers who require assistance when flying with us and is committed to full compliance with regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act.”
“In this instance, the customer was informed that we do not have boarding procedures for the safe use of his personal Eagle Lift device nor do our employees have training for storage of the device,” the statement read. “This final decision was made after reviewing the device’s specifications and the requirements for transporting it and the customer safely.”
According to the spokesperson, Southwest is now trying to learn more about the popular Eagle Lift device. “However, we have been in contact with the manufacturer of this device to learn more about the device’s unique handling and storage requirements,” the statement continued. “We remain committed to extending our legendary Southwest hospitality to every customer who chooses to fly with us, and we take great measures to comply with all federal accessibility requirements.”
If you have any news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514