Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters by Airlines

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its February 2019 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR), which for the first time includes the number of wheelchairs and scooters checked and mishandled by the 12 reporting airlines. From Dec. 4, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2018, these airlines reported checking 32,229 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 701, a rate of 2.18 percent mishandled.

The report also includes information regarding complaints about the treatment of disabled passengers. In 2018, the Department received 828 disability complaints, down 2.6 percent from the total of 850 received in 2017. The Department received a total of 67 disability-related complaints in December, up from the 56 complaints received in December 2017, but down from the 73 complaints received in November 2018. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are being investigated.

MISHANDLED WHEELCHAIRS AND SCOOTERS: RANKING LARGE U.S. REPORTING CARRIERS*

    DECEMBER 4 - DECEMBER 31, 2018
RANK CARRIER NUMBER OF WHEELCHAIRS AND SCOOTERS ENPLANED NUMBER OF WHEELCHAIRS AND SCOOTERS MISHANDLED PERCENT OF WHEELCHAIRS AND SCOOTERS MISHANDLED
1 SKYWEST AIRLINES 3,018 24 0.80%
2 DELTA AIR LINES 11,838 105 0.89%
3 UNITED AIRLINES 7,307 80 1.09%
4 ALASKA AIRLINES 1,126 14 1.24%
5 HAWAIIAN AIRLINES 638 13 2.04%
6 SPIRIT AIRLINES 1,442 33 2.29%
7 JETBLUE AIRWAYS 1,121 45 4.01%
8 FRONTIER AIRLINES 585 30 5.13%
9 EXPRESSJET AIRLINES 75 4 5.33%
10 SOUTHWEST AIRLINES** 2,879 186 6.46%
11 AMERICAN AIRLINES*** 2,091 151 7.22%
12 ENVOY AIR 109 16 14.68%
  TOTAL 32,229 701 2.18%


* All U.S. airlines with at least one percent of total domestic scheduled-service passenger revenues, as determined by DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

**Southwest informed the Department that for December 2018, it reported mishandlings of all power-assisted and manual wheelchairs and scooters; however, Southwest stated that its enplaned wheelchairs and scooters number did not include any manual wheelchairs enplaned by the carrier. Southwest has disclosed to the Department that it will have the ability to reliably capture manual wheelchairs enplaned on or after January 15, 2019, in its enplaned wheelchairs and scooters number submitted to the Department.

***American informed the Department that for December 2018, it reported mishandlings of all power-assisted and manual wheelchairs and scooters; however, American stated that its process for determining the enplanement number of wheelchairs and scooters may not have consistently accounted for all wheelchairs and scooters enplaned. American has also stated that this process may have impacted American’s wholly- owned subsidiary Envoy and American’s other branded code share carriers ExpressJet and SkyWest. American has indicated to the Department that it is enhancing its process to reliably capture all reportable enplaned wheelchairs and scooters, which may take a few months.

Click here to view the full report.

Read our press release in response to the report.