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Video of Deaf Couple Accusing Delta Air Lines of Discrimination Goes Viral

Jan. 29, 2019
3 min read
Video of Deaf Couple Accusing Delta Air Lines of Discrimination Goes Viral
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A video of a deaf couple from California sharing their account of discrimination by a Delta Air Lines agent at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) has gone on viral on Facebook.

Socorro Garcia and Melissa Elmira Yingst tell their story from a hotel in Detroit near the airport. They had to stay the night there after being told by police that they would not be permitted to board their flight home.

The story started when Garcia and Yingst arrived at DTW to board their Delta flight to Los Angeles (LAX). Allegedly, they attempted to communicate with the gate agent ("Felicia" according to her name tag) by using an iPhone to ask if they could be seated together despite having bought separate tickets. Felicia, after refusing to use the iPhone to communicate, eventually hand-wrote that the flight was full.

However, the trouble really began when Garcia tried to write a follow-up question on the same piece of paper and Felicia threw it away.

"I walked to the trash to pick it up but she pushed me away. Melissa was stunned and took out her iPhone to take a video of her and then Felicia turned on her iPhone to film us," said Garcia in the video. Things only escalated further when the gate agent called the police on the couple, accusing them of assaulting her. Shortly after, the police said there was "nothing they could do" for Garcia and Yingst and advised them to book another flight.

"Even though I have seen this many times, it was a huge shock when it happened to us. The feeling of being oppressed is very traumatic," said Yingst in the video.

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Delta told the Detroit Free Press that Yingst and Garcia weren't permitted to board because they went behind the gate counter and pushed past the agent, which isn't allowed. They also said that the gate agent accommodated the couple by informing them that flight was full and that she would check with the flight crew to see if someone aboard the plane was willing to give up a seat.

"Delta is in contact with two customers who reported having difficulty communicating with a gate agent prior to their flight. We are reviewing the situation with our Detroit team and will work with these customers to better understand what transpired," said Delta spokesman Michael Thomas in an email to TPG. "As always, we take situations like these seriously and we are using this as an opportunity to learn and improve.”

Delta also refunded the couple's tickets.

As for the couple -- they've since returned to Los Angeles on a flight by a different airline. "This has been very traumatizing for us and we right now are currently collecting resources to figure out the best way to remedy this situation," Yingst wrote in an email to the Free Press Monday.

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