Horrifying: Disability Activist Dead After United Airlines Destroys $30k Custom Wheelchair In Cargo.


We hear about the clumsiness, carelessness, and downright indifference of airlines seemingly weekly.  For the wealth and modernity of the U.S. we have, thanks to powerful lobbies and a mostly feckless regulatory system, some of the worst quality of air travel in the western hemisphere.  But that applies to mostly conveniences.  What happened in this story is a tragedy that was obviously preventable and unconscionable.  Airlines simply have little respect for the passenger because it does not cost them money not to.

But maybe that changes now.  If so, it comes at the cost of a brilliant and courageous life.

Figueroa, who worked with an organization called Hand in Hand championing for domestic workers rights, was traveling back from Washington D.C. with her friend Christine Lang, following their speech at the Can’t-Wait rally in support of home care system rights, the organization’s website said. Figueroa was shocked to discover that United Airlines had completely destroyed her $30,000 custom wheelchair while going through cargo, leaving her no choice but to use a traditional wheelchair while onboard the 5-hour long ride.

I shudder at this story.  The day my wife needs dialysis equipment, the airlines simply can’t make a mistake.  Or more likely, maybe we simply can’t fly.  Ms. Figueroa suffered these injuries in July, and due to her condition never recovered.  Which means not only did carelessness likely contribute to her death, her death also carried with it suffering, making this even more nauseating.  Believe it or not it gets worse.  She suffered a pressure sore, due to an imbalance creating a pressure sore, and it simply never healed.  More detail on her conditions below-

Figueroa’s wheelchair was designed to support her “spinal cord injury and left leg amputation.” The mobility device was considered critical to her independence and to maintaining her health,” the organization noted. United Airlines initially refused to replace the passionate activist’s wheelchair following the incident claiming that it could be repaired, but Figueroa continued to fight for the company to take accountability. Eventually, United Airlines agreed to fully replace Figueroa’s chair, but unfortunately during her legal battle, the Los Angeles native was forced to use a loaner chair that did not meet the needs of her disabilities. It further exacerbated her pressure sore, causing it to become infected. Figueroa died following complications from emergency surgery.

So I should point out United Airlines is not broke.  They are not in danger of bankruptcy, or having to switch to instant coffee in their breakrooms.  And not only did United Airlines not take it seriously, not show respect, not even fork out the $30k to make it right, they fought tooth and nail to send a message that “we are powerful and you are not.”

United posted net income of $473 million thanks to a boost from $1.13 billion in federal payroll aid. Its third-quarter sales totaled $7.75 billion compared with Wall Street analysts’ expectations for $7.64 billion and down 32% from the same quarter in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic began. It posted a per-share adjusted loss of $1.02, better than the $1.67 analysts expected. That loss strips out the benefit of federal aid.

There are times I am so mad, I go what I call off brand, off script, and sometimes off of my own rails.  It is not my general calling card to do the cussing thing, but United Airlines has earned this:

Fucking Bastards.  I hope you understand, but if you can think of something more appropriate to call them after they destroyed her life granting wheelchair, refused to replace it properly and fought her so long her injuries eventually led to her death, be my guest.  I am fresh out of eloquence today.  Anger is all that is coming through.

May Engracia Figueroa rest in peace and power.

And may those Fucking Bastards finally be made to be held accountable, face justice in all its forms, and hopefully be forced to adhere to as yet but soon to be created regulations protecting all passengers.

I don’t pledge allegiance to the United Capitalists of Fucking Bastardland.  I pledge it to the United States of America.

I pledge it to the disabled, the voiceless, the brave, the honorable, the part for which it is supposed to stand.

Do we mean it or not?


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