How United Airlines plans to help wheelchair users when travelling 

Over the last year, United and United Express collectively transported over 200,000 checked wheelchairs. Overall, there was a mishandling rate of 1.09 wheelchairs and scooters per 100. 

While this statistic may not grab headlines like United’s other recent issues such as hydraulic problems or incidents like losing a wheel, it still stands about 30% higher than Delta, which has the best record in this area overall.

To tackle this issue and improve the figures, the airline has introduced a new digital sizing tool aimed at assisting passengers in selecting the appropriate aircraft for their wheelchairs.

To show its commitment, United pledges to reimburse the fare difference if a passenger needs to choose an alternative flight with a larger cargo door.

Travellers flying with United requiring a personal wheelchair can access the United app or to use filters on the flight search results page before finalising their booking. 

After selecting the wheelchair filter tab, customers can input the specific dimensions of their mobility device. Then, the search results will indicate which flight options can accommodate those dimensions to make sure passengers are informed if their wheelchair fits or not.

In cases where an aircraft’s cargo hold doors cannot accommodate a larger motorized wheelchair, and the passenger must book a United flight with a higher fare to accommodate their wheelchair on the same day and between the same origin and destination, they may apply for a refund of the fare difference.

United also has other plans to help wheelchair users. At George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport, if a passenger’s wheelchair is damaged or delayed during travel, the airline will provide an appropriate loaner wheelchair. Nit is currently testing specialised, adjustable Permobil cushions for loaner wheelchairs at its Houston hub for comfort and stability.

 Linda Jojo, executive vice president and chief customer Officer for United added: “The more we know about a customer’s device, the more likely their experience will be a good one – from booking and check-in to the flight itself. These new tools and policies also set our employees up for success, especially those working on the ramp or at the gate.”

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