The U.S. Department of Transportation fined the nation’s largest airline $2.75 million for a range of disability discrimination and other federal violations.
In response to what it called a “rise in disability related complaints” from consumers in 2014, the DOT investigated United Airlines’ accessibility compliance at five major airports. The DOT found numerous instances where United Airlines failed to return passengers’ wheelchairs and other disability related devices in a timely manner. In many instances, the devices were returned damaged.
In addition, the DOT found that United frequently failed to assist passengers when entering and leaving planes. This issue made national headlines in October when D’Arcee Neal, a 29-year-old activist with cerebral palsy, was forced to crawl off a United flight.
In addition to the fine, United has agreed to spend $150,000 on audits for its vendors for the airline’s wheelchair assistance services. The airline will also direct $500,000 toward new technology allowing riders with disabilities to make requests via mobile apps.
“It is our duty to ensure that travelers with disabilities have access to the services they need, and that when significant tarmac delays happen, travelers are not left on the plane,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “We will make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly.”