Trey Harris and his husband were travelling to catch a cruise to celebrate their honeymoon.
But it turned into the honeymoon from hell when United Airlines prevented Harris from taking his mobility device on board the US flight from Newark to San Diego.
Harris, who has spondylitis – a type of spinal arthritis, had phoned the Transport Security Administration (TSA) and United prior to their flight to check that he would be able to board with his Segway miniPro, a device which allows him to get around when he has trouble walking due to his condition.
He wrote on website Medium that he was given the all clear. The couple passed through TSA with little trouble but when they reached the gate they were told they had to wait while the company “checked on something”.
Harris sent his husband ahead to board and save overhead room for the Segway, but agents at the gate insisted that he would not be allowed to carry the device on or check it into luggage.
Harris pulled up the company’s own rules and regulations regarding fire hazards which disproved that the Segway was dangerous but staff still did not allow him to board.
TSA were called and they insisted they had no issues with the device. United gave the couple an ultimatum: either they should miss their flight and catch a later one or they ditch the machine at check-in.
Harris explained that he was “humiliated” and sobbed for an hour. He heard other passengers complain about him, calling him an “entitled idiot”, but in reality he had lost a device that had become essential to his mobility.
He was forced to hire a large, bulky mobile scooter that cost hundreds of dollars and stopped him from doing all the activities he and his husband had been looking forward to for the past year.
The story took another turn for the worse when he received a message during the cruise that he had “abandoned a hazardous material” at the airport and that it would be disposed of by a Hazmat team which would cost a fee – and he could face arrest upon his return.
“I spent the rest of cruise terrified and stressed out,” he explained.
Thankfully he was not arrested and his Segway was returned.
United was caught up in a scandal last week when agents forcibly removed 69-year-old David Dao from his flight, injuring him in the process.