COLONIE, N.Y. – A local woman was on a recent trip and said she was denied access to a wheelchair by United Airlines.
Chrysta Santilli was in Chicago during a layover on her way back to the Capital Region when she did not receive a wheelchair even though she had an approved voucher.
“I was denied a wheelchair getting off, and I had to carry my son, his car seat, all of our luggage,” she said.
Santilli said a United Airlines employee told her she wasn’t given a wheelchair because the employee didn’t think she looked disabled.
“I have chronic back pain,” Santilli said. “I said, ‘My back’s already starting to hurt.’ She said, ‘Well, you probably didn’t get a wheelchair because you don’t look disabled.’”
Santilli said the discrimination continued. In a complaint to United Airlines, Santilli said the same employee would not give her more meal vouchers and did not treat her with respect.
“To treat someone less than human because they’re disabled just really shows a lack of any sort of ethics on behalf of the company,” she said. “How I felt when I left that kiosk…I’ve never…it was humiliating.”
United Airlines is investigating the incident.
In a written statement, the airline said, “What Ms. Santilli describes is not the experience we strive to deliver. Our records show she arrived in Chicago more than an hour before the connecting flight she missed and that we provided meal vouchers given the next flight was several hours later. We are discussing Ms. Santilli’s experience with the employees she spoke with and look forward to speaking with her further.”