Flying with a commercial airline as a non-disabled person is already a frustrating experience. Most American carriers have a bad track record of getting luggage to its proper destination with their passengers. I can’t imagine entrusting any air carrier to transport the device needed for my mobility safely. Earlier this year, Frontier Airlines damaged the wheelchair of a professional tennis player on a flight headed to a tournament.
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On a March 7 trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Atlanta, Georgia, Frontier Airlines damaged the specialized wheelchair of tennis player Andrew Bogdanov. He told USA Today that his chair was damaged earlier this year on another trip to England when a caster wheel and fork fell out. This time, though, the damage was worse. Bogdanov told the newspaper, “A different caster fork and wheel, this time not gone but snapped. My chair is even more damaged than just the part that’s been snapped off because it’s ruined the integrity of the frame.”
Bogdanov was forced to play his Georgia Open qualifying match on a borrowed chair and won. His girlfriend found an experienced welder to mend his chair so it could be used for the rest of the tournament.
Bogdanov was paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboarding accident in 2014. He is currently ranked 33rd in the world in wheelchair quads singles tennis and hopes to make his U.S. Open debut later this year.
Frontier has cooperated with Bogdanov to replace his chair. The airline stated to USA Today:
“Our airport agents are responsible for contacting [Global Repair Group] immediately by phone when a passenger’s device has been reported delayed or damaged, which was done by the ATL team. When the technician was completing the repairs, the technician saw the axle was bent and, based on the damage to the chair, a full replacement was sourced and provided.”
Bogdanov expects to receive the new chair in the next few weeks. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines mishandle 1.5 percent of the mobility devices transported on their flights. It might seem like a small amount, but that correlates to over 11,000 incidents last year.