Millions of Americans have invisible disabilities. Instead of being treated with compassion and concern, we often are treated with skepticism -- are you really that sick? You look okay!
My Crohn's disease is invisible, but it is no less disabling because of that. If I don't speak up -- if WE don't speak up -- things will never change.
And so I am asking you to sign this petition to help me to educate US Airways. On a recent cross-country flight, I was not allowed to take my one carry-on suitcase on the plane. They said the plane was too full and I needed to check my bag. I clearly identified myself as a person with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and explained that I needed my medicine with me. What I was trying not to say in front of an airport full of people is that I also suffer from fecal incontinence and I need to travel with a change of clothes and personal hygiene items. US Airways would not allow me to do so. No matter what I said or how I said it, they refused to acknowledge my rights.
And to top it all off, there was a completely empty overhead bin on the plane. All anybody had to do was to check to see if there was room for my bag. There was. But no US Airways employee showed enough compassion to even check on this.
I have been in touch with customer service at US Airways. They keep saying that, although they do have to allow people with disabilities to bring assistive devices on a plane, they don't have to let us bring a change of clothes and personal hygiene items. However, that's wrong as a matter of law -- and certainly wrong as a matter of compassion. The way I was treated was horrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. It's bad enough being sick; we shouldn't have to pay hundreds of dollars to be disrespected and humiliated.
Help me tell US Airways that we won’t accept anything less than a plan to educate their staff – ground staff, flight crews, customer service – about the rights of people with invisible disabilities so that this horrible experience will never be repeated.
- US Airways
I just signed the following petition addressed to: US Airways.
Millions of Americans suffer from invisible disabilities-- physical conditions that are devastating to the sufferer yet mostly undetectable to the casual observer. These disorders are no less legitimate for their outward subtlety. Yet, your airline treated me with disrespect and jeopardized my heath when I flew with you this past May. This is absolutely unacceptable and, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, illegal. US Airways needs to educate its staff on the rights of people with invisible disabilities to ensure that what I experienced never happens again.
On May 20, I was scheduled to fly on US Airways Flight 796 from LAX to Philadelphia; I was assigned boarding group 5. Because the flight was full, we were told that everyone in our had to check their bags. I very clearly stated that I have a disability that would prevent me from safely checking my one small bag, which included fifteen prescription medications. I implored the staff to please try to find some solution that would allow me to keep my bag with me. Instead, I was given a flimsy plastic bag to use. What I could not bring myself to explain in public is that, due to my refractory Crohn's disease, I suffer from fecal incontinence and must travel with a change of clothes and personal cleanings items. Further, Crohn's disease means very bad joint pain, so using my wheeled suitcase would be significantly less painful than carrying a purse and bag. As a result of the confiscation of my suitcase with my clothing and supplies in it, I went without food or drink in an effort to ensure that I would not have to move my bowels. At the end of my travels, I was so dizzy and light-headed that I had to ask for a wheelchair to take me to baggage claim, where I had to wait 30 minutes for my bag and then get myself home in an extremely weakened state.
This situation is completely unacceptable. Time and time again, I explained to US Airways staff and time and time again, reasonable accommodation was denied to me. As I traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and then to my final destination n Hartford, Connecticut, I repeatedly shared my deeply personal story in an attempt to get the assistance that I needed. Where I should have been treated with dignity, compassion, and respect I was instead greeted with disgust, suspicion, and attitude.
According to your Customer Service Representative, you do not have to allow people to take clothing or personal hygiene items on the plane with us, even if we needed due to disability. This is neither humane nor true. I find is hard to swallow that US Airways would have such a careless disregard for the comfort and safety of its customers. It is time that you took a stand ins support of the millions of passengers who suffer from invisible disabilities. US Airways needs to make a strong, public commitment to educating its staff on the issues surrounding all disabilities and the proper way to handle those passengers who require assistance.
I look forward to hearing about your swift action on this matter.
Jennifer Jaff started this petition with a single signature, and now has 2,242 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.