United Airlines is set to enhance the travel experience for customers using wheelchairs by introducing new technologies and policies.
The airline has announced a new digital filter on its website, united.com, which will help customers determine which aircraft can accommodate different sized wheelchairs. If a higher-fare flight is required to accommodate a specific wheelchair size, United will refund the fare difference. These new tools are expected to launch early next year.
Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United, stated that offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane can give them peace of mind when flying with United. This initiative also ensures that the airline’s team can handle these special items with proper care and attention.
The new flight filter will allow customers to enter the unique dimensions of their personal wheelchair as part of the flight search, prioritizing flight options on aircraft with cargo hold doors large enough to accommodate the wheelchair dimensions. If a customer’s wheelchair does not fit through the aircraft’s cargo door, and they take a higher-fare United flight that can accommodate their wheelchair on the same day and between the same origin and destination, they may seek a refund of the fare difference.
United is also launching a six-month pilot program at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport later this year to explore ways to better accommodate customers whose wheelchairs were damaged or delayed while traveling. The program will focus on improving the airport experience during such challenging periods, including providing specialized seating onsite and reimbursing the customer for transportation expenses if they choose to wait at a location other than the airport.
United has been proactive in improving accessibility, being the first U.S. airline to add Braille to aircraft interiors and redesigning its mobile app to make it more user-friendly for people with visual disabilities. The airline’s latest Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens offer a wide range of accessible features, and all new aircraft delivered by the end of 2032 will include the latest in seatback screen entertainment options.