Monday, May 18, 2009

Travel Experience on US Airways: Dispicable

Anyone travelling with a disability has it tough. We have not travelled by plane with Heidi since our return from Hawaii about 14 months ago. This story does not make me want to get on a plane any time soon. Especially not on US Airways. This is the chronicle of an experience by a family dealing with ALS on their trip home from the National Advocacy Day meetings and events.
Oh, I forgot to post this earlier . Here is H's comment about this story: “They should tie that pilot down to a chair for two years and see if he feels like the same kind of arrogant jerk then.”

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Below is a message sent to the ALSA national to alert them to the problem that Ken had. I also wanted all of you to know of the problem he had. Maybe we can remind the airlines of who is the customer. thanks

Below is a story about Ken Patterson (PALS) and Glenda Patterson and their children about their trip from Washington to Florida on the way back from Advocacy Day 2009. Glenda's story is much nicer than Ken's recollection. I thought you should know in case no one contacted you about the problem.. Glenda received a response from the airlines and received a $500 voucher. This in no way should be the end of it. I will be sending the same message to all of the PALS. It is posted on Facebooks and the patients like me website.

From: []Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 2:34 PMTo: Customer RelationsSubject: Complaint, Travel completed, Disability assistance Importance: High; First name: Glenda; Last name: Patterson; Category: Complaint Travel ; Time frame: Travel completed; Nature of feedback: Disability assistance; Origin city: Washington DC; Destination city: Orlando FL Flight number: 1189 Travel date: 05/13/09. Other travelers: Ken Patterson (my husband, a disabled veteran) Tabitha Weeks (16 yo daughter) Kenny Patterson (15 yo son) Samuel Weeks (10 yo son)

Comments: Upon boarding the pilot INSISTED that the battery be disconnected from Ken's power wheelchair for transport even though it is a gel battery and is not required. In fact even the mechanic told the pilot it was safer to leave the battery connected because it was very well insulated. He said no and they escorted me to the chair so I could instruct them in the operation of the chair and disconnecting the battery.
Upon arrival in Orlando, I exited the plane first to help get the chair ready for my husband. While I was doing that, I could see in the window of the plane there were people gathered around our seats and told Phil (last name unknown) they COULD NOT move him without me there.He assured me they would not do such a thing. Ken has ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and has little to no use of his voluntary muscles, therefore he can not speak clearly to make his needs known. I left our 16 year old daughter with him as she is the only other person with the ability to understand him. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my husbands brain and is very likely more intelligent than those that were gathered around him. Phil sent someone up to tell them NOT to move him. The pilot then instructed them to "get this man off of HIS plane".

My husband has a feeding tube as well as a diaphragm pacer and due to the decreased muscle in his diaphragm has issues breathing...none of the airline personnel knew this because they could not understand Ken, even though he and Tabitha tried to tell them not to move him.We were having trouble getting his wheelchair operational when someone on the radio said he was being moved up to the gate. I RAN to where they were wheeling him and hear him crying hysterically and see Tabitha crying because no one would stop so she could understand what he was saying. He had to sit in the aisle wheelchair, in pain for better than 30 minutes while we were getting his chair operational. I could not help work on the chair and tend to my panicing husband who was sliding out of the chair because once again he has little or no use of his muscles.

Ken is a brilliant man, who has not only served his country but also his community as a firefighter and was treated like a incompetent obstical in your pilots quest to clear his plane so he could go home. We have never received such treatment not to mention the physical danger they placed my husband in.We travel frequently as we know our time together is limited due to Ken's diagnosis and feel it is important to make those lasting memories with our children...this is a memory I wish we could erase. I look forward to hearing how this situation is taken care of.

The thought of other physically challenged people receiving this treatment from your pilot's is sickening. Message generated on at 5/14/2009 2:34:05 PM.

Jeff Dunlap, Diag. 8/05. ALS, "Lou Gehrig's disease," a progressive degenerative fatal disease affecting the motor neurons, begins at all ages from 16 on up. Every 90 min. a person is diag. with ALS. Every 90 min. a person loses their battle with ALS.
This e-mail was generated by speech recognition software.

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