When Cory Lee’s Delta flight from Santiago, Chile landed in Atlanta, Georgia on Nov. 13, he was eagerly awaiting the plane after a long trip.
The award-winning travel blogger, who lives in Georgia, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of two and has used a wheelchair for most of her life.
This did not stop him from traveling around the world. Lee told Fox News Digital that he is always the last to get off the plane while waiting for his seat to arrive on the jet bridge.
“It weighs around 400 pounds, so it usually takes a while,” Lee said.
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Lee told Fox News Digital he asked if the power chair was still on the jet bridge when the flight crew approached him with an aisle seat used to transport wheelchair users to their wheelchairs.
Lee said that when he was informed that his wheelchair was not on the jet bridge, he told the flight attendants that he preferred to stay on the plane until he could get to his seat.
Lee’s request relates to the Air Carrier Access Act.
The US Department of Transportation’s website states: “You may request that your wheelchair or walker be returned to you on the jetway at your destination airport, rather than at the baggage claim area. Airlines must return wheelchairs as close to the users’ door as possible, if requested.”
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Lee said it can take up to an hour for his chair to reach the jet bridge, and the aisle seat is uncomfortable for him.
“Also, it puts me at risk of high blood pressure,” he said.
According to him, Lee’s desire to wait for the wheelchair to be brought on board angered the flight attendants.
Lee said a supervisor also got involved, asking him to get off before the wheelchair arrived.
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“They were talking to each other and saying, ‘He just doesn’t want to get off the plane,'” Lee told Fox News Digital. “Believe me, I definitely wanted to get off the plane.”
The interaction, captured on video and shared on Instagram, escalated when a flight attendant told him to exit the plane and wait in the aisle for a wheelchair — or the TSA would “force Lee off the plane” with all his weapons and belongings. ”
At that point, Lee said he “didn’t want to be pressured. I know the law,” he said.
Lee said he “didn’t want to be pressured. I know the law.”
Lee believes he is the first wheelchair traveler to visit all seven continents.
Minutes later, a “very nice and helpful” employee from the Atlanta airport arrived and said the wheelchair was at the jet bridge gate, Lee said.
“He picked me up and [put me] into an aisle seat and then back into my wheelchair,” Lee said, adding that about seven to eight minutes after the flight attendant’s gun comment, Lee was in his wheelchair and on his way.
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Fox News Digital reached out to Delta and a statement was sent.
“The exchange in this video does not reflect the high standard of care that Delta people strive for every day,” the statement said. “We are looking into what happened here and will follow up with our staff accordingly. Delta has reached out to this customer directly to hear more about their experience and to apologize further.”
Lee said he contacted the airline via email and received a response saying they were looking into the matter.
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However, what she really wants is an opportunity to talk to flight attendants, Delta corporate and ground crew about interacting with people with disabilities.
“They need accessibility training and they need to hear from people with disabilities like me,” Lee said. “They need to understand the impact of words.”
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Cory Lee’s first international trip was to the Bahamas at the age of 15. “Seeing the culture and trying new foods made me want to see more of this big, wild, beautiful world of ours,” she writes on her travel blog.
She is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with a degree in marketing, she says on her blog.