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United Barred a Gay Man From Taking His Mobility Device on His Honeymoon

United Airlines

A gay man who has difficulty walking was forced to leave behind the device he needs for mobility.

United Airlines is in freefall after video of a passenger being violently dragged off of the plane because it was overbooked went viral. Since then, stories about United's transgressions have proliferated, included a bizarre tale of a man who was bitten by a scorpion on a United flight, but this story of a gay man being forced to leave behind his "previously-approved, DOT & TSA-allowed mobility device" on his honeymoon, is making the rounds of United horror stories.

The alleged victim of another of United's despicable customer service policies, Trey Harris, wrote on Medium about how United forced him to abandon his Segway mini-pro at the gate in Newark, N.J., for his flight to San Diego for his honeymoon cruise, according to Mashable. He wrote that he uses the device as a mobility aid due to his spondylitis, which he explained is a type of autoimmune spinal arthritis that makes it difficult for him to walk.

Although Harris did his due diligence to land authorization for the Segway mini-pro, he was barred from taking it with him on his honeymoon.

"I'd called United's Special Needs desk well before the flight," Harris wrote. "They asked about the device's specs and gave me what sounded like the official OK."

Harris went through the steps of then contacting the Transportation Security Administration Disabilities Desk for approval and he received an authorization email, he wrote. But apparently, someone at the boarding gate did not understand the memo. Harris wrote that he made it through the TSA checkpoint without a hitch, but at the boarding gate, after much back and forth over a typo in his official itinerary, the device was labeled a "hoverboard" and he was told it was not allowed on the plane. Despite his protestations that it was a Segway with a certified fire safety seal on it, he was not allowed to take it with him.

But that wasn't the end. According to Harris, the captain came out to see what the issue was and told Harris that they would take care of it, making it seem as though it would all be OK. Soon after, Harris received a text saying the flight was delayed due to "passenger disturbance." In the end, the captain, whose final decision it was to allow the device, put the kibosh on Harris taking on the plane. Without time to call a friend to pick it up, he left the Segway at the gate, he wrote.

"We take off, and my honeymoon starts with me sobbing for an hour, my husband consoling me," Harris wrote.

He went on to detail that he rented a clunky scooter for several hundred dollars in San Diego to take aboard the cruise ship. But that wasn't the end of United's issue with Harris. As he began to finally settle in and enjoy his honeymoon he received a series of voicemails in which he was accused of "abandoned a hazardous material at an international airport" in Newark.

United did not respond to a request for a comment, according to Mashable.

When all was said and done he got his Segway back, but there was no giving him and his husband back their honeymoon. Harris wrote that he didn't write the piece for compensation.

"An apology would be nice, but I'm not expecting miracles," he wrote. I'd just like them -- or another airline, if they refuse -- to assure me I'll be allowed to bring my mobility device with me the next time I fly.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.
Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.