Update: Man Attending Father’s Funeral Sues United After Airline Steals His Wheelchair Forcing Him to Fall Over

This is an update to a story we first posted about last February. Greg Poienski, 66, was flying from Orlando to Newark last February for his father’s funeral when he claims that United staff took away his wheelchair just as he was boarding.

‘After he cleared the jet way, plaintiff’s wheelchair was taken away, and he was forced to move on his own locomotion to his seat,’ according to the lawsuit‘.‘‘Almost immediately after plaintiff entered the airplane, he fell in a violent fashion, suffering a fractured spine, along with several other major injuries.’

United’s own website guidance indicates that special on-board wheelchairs are used when transferring passengers from their own wheelchairs upon boarding a plane with more than 60 seats.

Onboard wheelchairs
Every aircraft with more than 60 seats has an onboard wheelchair. These wheelchairs are specially designed to fit the aisle of our aircraft and may be used to access the lavatory. Our inflight personnel are trained in the use of this wheelchair and will assist you.

Accessible boarding
Some domestic and international airports may not have jet-bridges available. In these stations, a passenger assist lift (PAL), mechanical lift, ramp or a stair chair physically carried by airline personnel (in international locations only), may be used for boarding and deplaning.

Aisle wheelchairs
We also offer aisle wheelchairs for transferring non-ambulatory customers to and from their seats on the aircraft.

Before the fall, Poienski had to set up a GoFundMe to buy the United ticket to attend his 98-year-old WWII veteran father’s funeral.

‘I am 65, on permanent disability, and I rely on crutches to get around. I live in east central Florida. I only get paid once a month. I have $67 left in food money for the rest of the month. My fiancee and I found direct roundtrips at $403.40 bereavement cost for me and $592.00 regular last-minute cost for her. The last time I saw my father was two and a half years ago on Father’s Day, June 2014. Whatever you can afford to help me get to my dad’s funeral would be greatly appreciated.’

Poienski recently filed the suit and his attorney says United has thus far ignored them. They are seeking unspecified damages from the carrier.

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  1. Was he using his crutches up the aisle? He was somewhat ambulatory according to his gofundme request. It’s not like he was using a wheelchair full-time. Sometimes people just fall.

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