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A woman with multiple sclerosis wants Delta Air Lines to improve its service for disabled passengers after she claims she was tied to a wheelchair following an international flight earlier this month.
Maria Saliagas was diagnosed with the central nervous system disease five years ago, but didn’t want her deteriorating health to stop her annual trips with her husband to Europe. So prior to her April 1 flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, her son made arrangements with Delta officials to ensure that the proper wheelchair would be waiting for her on the other side of the Atlantic, WSB-TV reports.
But the wheelchair with special straps to help her sit up straight wasn’t there, prompting Delta employees to improvise, Nathan Saliagas told the station.
“They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it, and she has bruise marks on this part of her arm, which is where it was tied,” he said, pointing to his bicep. “I want them to show initiative that they’re willing to change their disability services.”
Saliagas was offered 20,000 free SkyMiles after complaining to airline staffers, but that won’t cut it, according to her son. Instead, she wants assurances from the airline that they’ll better accommodate disabled passengers.
“I definitely know that they’re a good airline, I’m not doubting that at all, but in this specific situation, there was no courtesy, no respect,” Nathan Saliagas told WSB-TV. “There was complete operations failure.”
Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, apologized for the incident in a statement released late Tuesday and promised a better flight for Saliagas when she returns on Monday.
“We regret the perception our service has left on these customers,” the statement read. “We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also to ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations.”
A message seeking additional comment from Delta officials Wednesday was not immediately returned.
Nathan Saliagas, meanwhile, criticized Delta in a Facebook post Tuesday for “physically and emotionally” abusing his mother, claiming the incident shows the airline has a long way to go when it comes to disabled passengers.
“When she started crying, she was told to ‘shut the f— up’ or she will be ‘left there,’” he wrote. “This highly inhumane and disgusting treatment by Delta Air Lines is unacceptable and a need for change.”
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