- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2015

A woman using a wheelchair filed a lawsuit Friday morning against American Airlines after she says she was forced to crawl on her hands and knees onto a plane because an agent told her it was too late to set up a ramp.

Theresa Purcell said she was taking a commuter flight about two years ago from San Diego to her native Hawaii when an agent at the gate told her it was too late to set up a ramp so she could board, a local Fox affiliate reported. Ms. Purcell said she didn’t want to miss her flight, so she got out of her wheelchair and crawled onto the plane.

“I crawled up onto the steps. I crawled into the plane. There was no other way for me to get on the plane so I crawled up to the plane,” she told the station. “I was humiliated. It was embarrassing to have 50-something people watch you crawl into a plane.”

The airline apologized for the incident and admitted to violating the Air Carrier Access Act. A statement from the airline read, in part, “On behalf of US Airways and American Airlines, please accept our apologies for the difficulties Ms. Purcell experienced with her request for level entry boarding.”

Ms. Purcell, however, doesn’t think the apology is enough. She wants to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, Fox reported.

Her attorney wrote a letter asking for compensation, to which the airline responded, “Thank you for your letter of demand on behalf of Theresa Purcell. American Airlines will not be issuing any compensation for your client’s injuries claim,” Fox reported.

Ms. Purcell’s lawsuit asks for $75,000 in general damages, plus punitive damages, the station said.

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