Edited by: Nick Ellis
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United is unveiling new initiatives intended to make the travel experience easier for passengers who rely on a wheelchair.
Here’s what you should about United’s plans, including an industry-first tool on the airline’s website.
United’s New Digital Flight Filter
A new flight filter tool on united.com will allow travelers to enter the unique dimensions of a personal wheelchair as part of the flight search. With this, search results will prioritize flight options on aircraft with cargo hold doors large enough to accommodate the wheelchair’s dimensions.
The size of aircraft cargo hold doors varies from aircraft to aircraft, and this will allow wheelchairs — especially larger motorized ones that must travel upright — to be accommodated.
“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.”
United also says it will refund the fare difference if a higher-fare flight is needed to accommodate a specific wheelchair size. This tool will roll out early next year.
Airport Experience Pilot Program
Later this year, United will begin a 6-month pilot program at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to explore ways to better accommodate customers if a wheelchair is damaged or delayed while traveling.
The airline is working with its Accessible Travel Advisory Board to explore several initiatives aimed at improving the airport experience, including providing specialized seating onsite or reimbursing for transportation expenses.
United entered an agreement earlier this month with the U.S. Department of Transportation to deliver these initiatives through a commitment to increase accessibility and improve the travel experience for customers who require the use of a wheelchair.
United carried about 150,000 wheelchairs in 2022.Hot Tip:
Flying in this day and age can be inconvenient and uncomfortable even for able-bodied passengers, but for travelers with disabilities, the experience often ranges from a nightmarish juggling act to impossible altogether. But at least 1 aspect of the experience may be improved for fliers with a wheelchair, and we certainly hope other airlines will follow United’s lead and work on similar initiatives.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Ross
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About Chris Dong
Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full time at The Points Guy, his work can now be found at AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Washington Post, and Lonely Planet, among others
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