The United horror stories keep coming out of the woodwork. After the internet exploded over a viral video showing a man being forcibly dragged from his seat on a United flight last weekend, another passenger has taken to Medium to share his horrible experience with the airline.
Trey Harris' tale of inhumane customer service and unreasonable responses left him frustrated and upset — enough so he wrote a lengthy post Thursday about the incident, which happened at the beginning of last month.
Harris' honeymoon was nearly ruined when United barred him from bringing his "previously-approved, DOT & TSA-allowed mobility device," a Segway miniPro, on board his flight from Newark to San Diego, where the couple had planned to board a cruise. Harris says in the post he has spondylitis, a type of autoimmune spinal arthritis, which can make walking difficult.
Based on Harris' account he had done his research and homework to make sure the TSA and United would let him travel with the device. It seemed like everything was set for him and his new husband to saunter onto the plane where they'd splurged on first-class seats since it was their honeymoon.
After making it through security without a hitch, it appears a typo and unreasonable staff threw a wrench in his travel plans. A note about his call into the airline about the device seems to have said he was not allowed on board with the device — which didn't make sense since the TSA and the rest of the note clearly stated everything was copacetic. "I tried to explain that logic to them, but they were unyielding," he wrote.
United has not responded to our request for comment on this alleged incident. In an email Friday, Harris declined to speak beyond what he wrote in the Medium post until he could touch base with a lawyer.
The drama continued with a lot of confusion about whether the Segway was actually a hoverboard and prone to exploding. No matter how much evidence Harris presented — he got a United special needs representative on his cellphone to tell staff at the airport that his device was allowed on board and a TSA representative to OK it in person — the staff at the gate was relentless. The pilot was called in to assess the situation and eventually said no, too.
Harris and his husband ultimately had to leave the Segway at the gate since they didn't want to miss the cruise. They weren't allowed to gate-check the device and there was no time to have a friend come pick it up. Using his cane, Harris made it onto the plane.
"We take off, and my honeymoon starts with me sobbing for an hour, my husband consoling me," Harris wrote.
From there, Harris said he had to find other accommodations for getting around the cruise and they ended up renting a scooter in San Diego for several hundred dollars. The couple had to modify some excursions and getting around was much more difficult with the clunky, unwieldy device than with his Segway. But overall, the couple made it work and had been enjoying their vacation until there was another nightmarish turn.
About halfway through the cruise, Harris received messages that he had "abandoned a hazardous material at an international airport," and a hazmat team was handling it. He would owe money for its disposal and he could face arrest when he arrived in Newark for the alleged crime, according to the messages.
"I spent the rest of cruise terrified and stressed out," he said. Once they disembarked in San Diego their plans for a day in the city were thrown off again without his Segway, he explained in the post.
Thankfully, once back in Newark he wasn't arrested and baggage crews returned his Segway to him. Everything more or less worked out, even if his honeymoon was anything but smooth.
Harris wrote that his post isn't an attempt to get paid by United, but is more about receiving an apology. And assurance that next time he flies he can bring his device with him. The couple's already booked the same cruise next year.