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Denied disability service and assistance

Air (Plane)
Brussels Airport, Belgium

This event occurred on 7/17/2022. I am a person with a mobility impairment who typically does not use assisted devices, but has trouble walking for long periods of time. I was trying to reach a layover coming from Paris, stopping in Brussels, and going to Washington DC flying on Brussels airlines.

When I got to Brussels, I landed near the end of terminal A and had an hour layover to reach the end of terminal B. There was also a 3-hour line to check passports between the terminals. When I get to the passport line (which has hundreds of people in it), I asked an airport employee where to go and they said, “There’s too many people here, find it yourself.” I told them I couldn’t stay in line that long: my legs hurt from all the walking. They said I had to use a wheelchair if I want to use the disabled lane and I get denied access. There is also no easily accessible area for me to request a wheelchair.

When we do get through the passport line, I have even greater trouble walking and while I finally get a wheelchair and staff call an assistant, I was left in the wheelchair for an hour, missing my grounded flight by 10 minutes because I was left without support. The wheelchair does not have user controls and needs to be pushed by someone other than the person in the chair.

Since airport staff cannot find the staff from Brussels airlines, someone from United offered to bring me to the ticketing. The airline representative takes me back out to buy tickets, recheck through security since there are no tickets for sale in Brussels at the gates. However, the United staff can’t take me all the way to the ticketing desk because it has to be someone from Brussels airlines, whom they cannot find.

After waiting with no sign of the escort from Brussels airlines, a security officer has to escort me.

Overall, I was told that my mobility impairment did not qualify me as a disabled passenger since I was in a wheelchair and I did not receive the support needed from Brussels airlines staff to timely and successfully board my flight.

Incident submitted by Jenna Shelton