A Woman With MS Was ‘Forcefully’ Tied to Her Wheelchair on Delta Flight
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A woman with multiple sclerosis claims cabin crew on a Delta flight forcibly tied her to her wheelchair because they didn’t have the proper safety equipment for her.
The woman, Maria Saliagas, usually travels to Europe with her husband in a wheelchair with straps that help her sit up straight because she can’t do so on her own. Delta normally provides the correct wheelchair for her. On her April 1 flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Amsterdam (AMS), that was not the case.
The airline did not have a wheelchair with the straps for Saliagas, so according to her son, the flight’s crew used a blanket to tie her tightly in her chair. “They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it and she has bruise marks on part of her arm because it was so tight and she started crying,” her son, Nathan Saliagas, told WSB-TV in Atlanta.
Sources investigating the incident told TPG that upon Saliagas’ arrival at AMS, the airport-contracted wheelchair vendor deplaned her using an “aisle chair” designed to board the aircraft. In the European Union, airlines must use wheelchair vendors contracted by the airport. The person with knowledge of the investigation said the wheelchair vendor then offered Saliagas several wheelchair options for transfer through the gate, and she picked one.
After she was seated, Saliagas told the wheelchair attendant she felt like she was slipping so “as a mitigation tool, the customer agreed to blankets being offered as a way to provide comfort and secure her to the wheelchair.”
The source investigating the incident said the blanket used was taken from its original, seal plastic wrap.
“We are disappointed that our customers didn’t have a satisfying travel experience and will ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations,” Delta said in an email to TPG. “While Delta always looks for ways to improve the overall customer experience, our findings do not align with details shared by the customer’s family.”
Like many airlines, Delta has online forms for passengers with disabilities to request assistance at the airport in advance. The Delta disability assistance page on its website also says that passengers with disabilities who need “real-time” assistance in the airport contact a complaint resolution official in the terminal. “Our CROs have been specially trained and are aware of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) disability regulations.”
When the Saliagas family complained to the airline, they said Delta offered them 20,000 SkyMiles — worth $240 based on TPG‘s most recent valuations. But the family said they would rather see a change in Delta’s disability policy.
*This post has been updated to reflect Delta’s new statement to TPG as well as additional information from the investigation into the matter.
Featured image by Shutterstock.com.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.