Award-winning travel blogger, Cory Lee, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of 2 and has used a wheelchair for most of his life was threatened by a Delta flight attendant for not getting off the plane before his wheelchair arrived on the bridge.
Lee was on a Delta flight from Santiago, Chile, and landed in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 13. Despite his limitations, Lee has traveled all over the world.
Having traveled so much, Lee knows his rights and is always the last to deboard the plane as he waits for his chair to be brought to the jet bridge, Lee told Fox News Digital.
“It weighs like 400 pounds, so it usually takes a while,” Lee said.
So, when flight attendants brought him the aisle chair that’s used to transport wheelchair patrons to their own wheelchairs, Lee simply asked if his power chair was at the jet bridge yet.
Lee said that he was told that his wheelchair wasn’t at the jet bridge yet. Knowing the wait for his chair could take some time, he told the flight attendants that he preferred to stay on the plane until he had access to his chair.
Lee had every right to this request as the US Department of Transportation website states, “You can request that your wheelchair or walker be returned to you on the jetway at your destination airport and not the baggage claim area. Airlines are required to return wheelchairs to users as closely as possible to the door of the aircraft if requested.”
Lee explained that it could take up to an hour for his chair to get to the jet bridge and the aisle chair is uncomfortable for him saying, “Plus it puts me at risk for developing pressure sores.”
As the flight attendants became more agitated, Lee told Fox News Digital, “They were talking to each other, saying, ‘He just doesn’t want to get off the plane.’ Believe me, I definitely wanted to get off the plane.”
Lee at this point knew things were not going well and a video of the event was captured and posted on his social media accounts. The angered flight attendant told Lee to exit the plane and wait for his wheelchair while in the aisle chair or TSA would make Lee “get off the aircraft with all their guns and stuff.”
Today, a @Delta flight attendant threatened me with guns, saying that I (a wheelchair user) had to exit the plane before my wheelchair arrived at the plane door. According to the Air Carrier Access Act, this is illegal. I never knew I could be shot for abiding by the ACAA. pic.twitter.com/bfvf21864r
— Curb Free with Cory Lee (@coryleetweets) November 14, 2022
Lee, having flown many times, became frustrated and said he “did not want to cave to pressure. I know the law.”
Soon after, a “very nice and helpful” employee from the Atlanta airport arrived and told Lee that his wheelchair was at the door of the jet bridge.
Lee said, “He picked me up and [put me] into the aisle chair and then again into my wheelchair.”
Lee said that it was approximately seven to eight minutes after the flight attendant’s gun comment that Lee received his own wheelchair and was able to move on.
Delta issued a statement to Fox News Digital saying,
“The exchange in this video does not reflect the high standard of care Delta people aspire to every day,” the statement said. “We are reviewing what occurred here and will follow up as appropriate with our people. Delta has reached out to this customer directly to hear more about what they experienced and to offer further apologies.”
Lee said he would like the opportunity to speak to flight attendants, Delta corporate, and ground crews about interacting with people with disabilities.
“They need accessibility training and to hear from actual people with disabilities like myself. They need to understand the impact their words have,” Lee said.