A gay man has revealed how United airlines ruined his honeymoon by preventing him from taking his mobility device on board.
Trey Harris and his husband were travelling with the company to catch a cruise to celebrate their honeymoon.
Harris, who has spondylitis – a type of spinal arthritis, had phoned the TSA and United prior to their flight to check that he would be able to board with his Segway miniPro, a device which allows him to get around when he has trouble walking due to his condition.
Harris was given the all clear and began to prepare for his holiday, however when he reached the airport it was made clear that everything was not “taken care of”. The couple passed through TSA with little trouble but when they reached the gate they were told they had to wait while the company “checked on something”.
Harris sent his husband ahead to board and save overhead room for the Segway, but agents at the gate insisted that Harris would not be allowed to carry the device on or check it into luggage.
A note left on Harris’ profile read that he “was advised he would NOT be allowed to board with device, and the device will not have to be checked, provided he can place device in overhead without crew assistance. Transferred passenger to TSA for clearance of device through security.”
Harris realised that the “not” had been a typo left in his notes, and phoned the Special Needs desk rep to clarify. They told the gate agents that it was a mistake and Harris should be able to board using his device, but instead a manager was called over who decided that he could not board the plane with the machine because it was a “fire risk”.
Harris and United staff argued over the matter. He pulled up the company’s own rules and regulations regarding fire hazards which disproved that the Segway was dangerous. However, staff still did not allow him to board.
The flight was now delayed, and TSA were called who insisted that they had no issues with the device. United gave the couple an ultimatum: either they should miss their flight and catch a later one or they ditch the machine at check-in.
Harris, who recounted the story on medium, explained that he was “humiliated” and sobbed for an hour. He heard other passengers complain about him calling him an “entitled idiot”, but really he had lost a device that had become essential to his mobility.
He was forced to hire a large, bulky mobile scooter that cost hundreds of dollars and stopped him from doing all the activities he and his husband had been looking forward to for the past year.
The story took another turn for the worst when he received a message on the cruise that he has “abandoned a hazardous material” at the airport and that it would be disposed of by a hazmat team which would cost a fee – and he could face arrest upon his return.
“I spent the rest of cruise terrified and stressed out,” he explained. Luckily he was not arrested and his Segway was returned.