Staffing shortages are affecting many airport services including wheelchair support and one elderly traveler recently found himself forced to walk after a lengthy delay waiting for wheelchair assistance after his recent flight.
79-year-old Donald Willis gave up waiting for wheelchair assistance after a recent flight into the Las Vegas Airport. Willis, who suffers from a lung condition, was traveling from Orlando to Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines. However, after his incoming flight was delayed, Willis, who has emphysema, found himself waiting for wheelchair assistance. After waiting for 30 minutes or so, Willis decided to walk to his ride-share. The journey was extremely difficult according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Willis had to use his inhaler four or five times during this walk.
Willis is just one of the many passengers affected by staffing shortages impacting airports and airlines around the world. Of note, staff able to assist those requiring wheelchair assistance have been in short supply. One airline abandoned a traveler, leaving her in a wheelchair until the lights went out, while another left a man waiting for 2 hours before desperate calls by him to get through customers were finally heeded.
Low pay, poor benefits, and tough working conditions are often seen as the primary source of blame for the lack of staff to assist travelers requiring assistance, at least according to Business Insider who also said the airlines’ inability to manage their labor pools in a very tight market is a part of the story.
This reporter recently witnessed firsthand at the Las Vegas Airport 9 passengers requiring wheelchair assistance with only 2 employees to assist them. While that group of customers seemed to be in good spirits, it was clear that they were going to be there a while being shuttled back and forth by airport staff.
No apparent end in sight is on the horizon as the travel surge continues and some folks are suggesting folks who may require assistance should avoid travel altogether or buckle up for a rough experience.