Written by Talia Lakritz Jul 8, 2021, 2:36 PM for Insider. Lakritz is a senior reporter at Insider. Her work has appeared on Yahoo! News, Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, The Independent, MONEY, and MSN.
- Airlines break thousands of wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility equipment per year.
- A broken wheelchair impacts a disabled person’s mobility, independence, and quality of life.
- Disability advocates are working to allow wheelchairs on flights and make planes accessible.
The day before his flight from Minneapolis to Orlando to speak at a conference, author, YouTuber, and president of Laughing At My Nightmare Shane Burcaw posted a message on Instagram begging Delta not to break his wheelchair. “My wheelchair gets damaged often enough that every flight I take feels like a terrifying gamble,” Burcaw, who makes videos about disability and relationships with his wife Hannah Aylward, told Insider. “I’d estimate there has been damage on 60% of the flights I’ve taken, but every trip I nervously hold my breath and expect the worst.”
When Burcaw and Aylward boarded their flight, airport workers took his wheelchair to the cargo hold, as is standard procedure. Upon landing, Aylward filmed for the couple’s channel, Squirmy and Grubbs, as she retrieved the wheelchair. One of the footrests had broken off, the seat was stuck in its fully leaned-back position, and it wouldn’t turn on.
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