Passenger stranded for hours at airport after wheelchair ‘left behind by American Airlines’

The ‘theme park enthusiast’ said the airline’s customer service gave ‘nothing but the runaround’

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 21 September 2022 16:49 BST
<p>Disney fan Xavi Santiago </p>

Disney fan Xavi Santiago

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An American Airlines passenger landed in Florida for a Disney World trip only to find that luggage handlers had failed to load their wheelchair onto the flight.

Last week, Xavi Santiago flew from Los Angeles to Orlando with a layover in Miami.

The self-proclaimed “theme park enthusiast” was en route to the Disney World Resort at the time of the airport ordeal.

In a TikTok video, Santiago, who identifies as non-binary, documented details of the wait of at least five hours for the electric-powered wheelchair that they could not leave the airport without.

They said: “In Miami, after having a whole kerfuffle with no one being there to load me onto the plane and me having to wait until the plane finished boarding to actually get transferred on, they didn’t put my chair on the plane.”

Upon landing in Orlando, the Disney fan had to wait for the arrival of their wheelchair while using a manual airport-issued one to get around the building.

Airline staff had promised that the wheelchair would arrive by 9.30pm that night.

But, in a video recorded at about 11pm – more than an hour after the wheelchair was meant to arrive – Santiago said: “They have given me nothing but the runaround.

“Customer service is pretty much only over the phone and I’ve been on hold several different times and been told 15 different things.”

In the comments section of the video, Santiago gave an update on the situation by saying that – after a wait of five hours – the wheelchair finally arrived at 1am.

They wrote: “I’m still trying to get some sort of compensation for this nightmare ordeal, [especially] considering I have no option but to do my return flight with them.

“I wasn’t able to eat, it was difficult to use the bathroom, and my chronic pain was flaring hard after sitting in a transfer wheelchair for HOURS.”

Santiago posted another video the next day showing them dressed in a Cinderella costume and sitting in the electric-powered wheelchair, adding: “Running on three and a half hours of sleep, faith, trust, and pixie dust.”

The Independent has contacted American Airlines for comment.

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