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How This American Airlines Rule Keeps Some Wheelchair Users From Flying At 130 Airports
American Airlines has recently implemented a new policy that impacts passengers flying with power wheelchairs.
The airline quietly implemented a new policy that bans power wheelchairs, weighing at least 300 pounds, back in June 2020 on various domestic flights. The new policy wasn’t brought to light until recently–John Morris of Wheelchair Travel pointed it out.
Morris, a triple amputee, is a frequent flyer who has traveled to 46 countries with his wheelchair. He was traveling for the first time since March on an American Airlines flight from Gainesville, Florida to Dallas, Texas – a route he’s traveled more than 50 times with a power wheelchair across various airlines, including 21 times with American.
During check-in, Morris was asked by staff the weight of his Permobil F3 power wheelchair. He replied that it was 450 pounds.
“After providing the information, a supervisor retreated to his office to ‘check on something’ – the first sign that this was not going to be a typical flight experience,” said Morris. “After about 5 minutes, he returned to tell me that American Airlines had instituted a new policy and that my wheelchair was now too heavy to fly on any of its regional aircraft.”
According to Morris’ analysis of the new policy, American Airlines bans power wheelchairs made by Permobil, Quantum, and Quickie from at least 130 airports across the United States.
Morris said the airline refused to accommodate his flight to Dallas or his final destination, New Mexico.
“This is what discrimination looks like,” Morris wrote about the experience. “Remember this story the next time American Airlines claims that it is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a lie.”
American Airlines did not immediately respond to Travel Noire’s request for comment.