United will soon make it easier for those traveling with wheelchairs by adding a new booking filter.
Given the variety of aircraft types in both United’s mainline and regional fleets, not all wheelchairs are able to fit, and unfortunately in some cases, they end up being damaged if the loading crew try to squeeze them in the hold.
From early next year, travelers planning to fly will have the option to enter the dimensions of their wheelchair on the booking page, which should prioritize flights capable of adequately accommodating said chair.
If a customer is unable to take their preferred flight, and opts to take another more expensive flight on the same day, they will be entitled to apply for a refund for the fare difference once the flight is on the same day and has the same departing and arriving cities.
“By offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane, we can give them the peace of mind they deserve when they fly with us,” said Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United. “Plus, collecting this information ahead of time ensures our team can handle these special items with proper care and attention.”
Besides that, the carrier will soon begin a six-month pilot program at its Houston (IAH) hub to find ways to accommodate passengers who may have had their wheelchairs damaged during the travel process.
The program will focus on the timeframe between a customer’s arrival and when United returns the wheelchair or provides an appropriate loaner wheelchair if the original is damaged. United will collaborate with the relevant Accessible Travel Advisory Board to explorer other initiatives to improve the airport experience during the wait period, including providing specialized seating onsite and reimbursing the customer for transportation expenses should they choose to wait at a location other than the airport.
DOT data suggests that of the 150,000+ wheelchairs it transported in 2022, 1,463 of those where damaged, mishandled or temporarily lost. While this is still under 1%, it still means that these 1,463 customers were inconvenienced as a result of the airline not being able to properly accommodate their assistance equipment.
[Featured Photo: United Airlines]