A woman in a wheelchair who was forced to crawl onto an airplane is now suing American Airlines.
Theresa Purcell was boarding a commuter plane from San Diego to Hawaii when the gate agent told her it was too late for them to set up the wheelchair ramp.
“I was like ‘Okay, so we can’t just… the ramp is right there,’” Purcell told KHON2 News in Hawaii. “Can’t you guys just push it right here so I can get on?”
The gate agent declined to put the ramp in place, forcing Purcell, who lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth’s disease, to get on her hands and knees.
Purcell says it was embarrassing to crawl onto a plane filled with other passengers. (Photo: KHON2)
“There was no other way for me to get on the plane so I crawled up to the plane,” said Purcell. “I was humiliated. It was embarrassing to have 50-something people watch you crawl into a plane.”
After the incident, Purcell’s attorney reached out to American Airlines asking for compensation, but his request was denied.
In response, Purcell has filed a lawsuit asking for $75,000 in general damages, plus punitive damages.
American Airlines issued an apology to Purcell after she was forced to crawl onto a plane. (Photo: American Airlines)
Even though American Airlines declined to offer compensation, they did issue an apology in a written statement. “On behalf of US Airways and American Airlines, please accept our apologies for the difficulties Ms. Purcell experienced with her request for level entry boarding,” said the statement.
“We regret that a ramp was not requested so Ms. Purcell would be able to board the aircraft without going up the stairs, assistance should have been provided shortly thereafter. Based on what you’ve shared, it appears our employees didn’t provide the attentive, courteous and professional service we expect as a company.”
Purcell is a hip-hop artist who travels frequently for performances.
This was her first time flying American Airlines, and has vowed to make it her last.