Woman Who Uses Wheelchair Calls Out Airport Staff For 'Pushing' Her Without Her Permission — 'You Should Know Basic Respect'

The airline staff criticized the woman for telling them what to do and "making a mountain out of a "mole hole."

annoyed woman looking at airport staff pushing wheelchair Ljupco Smokovski and 5m via Shutterstock / FeminineInspire4u via Canva

A woman has sparked a much-needed discussion regarding the treatment of people with disabilities in public spaces from customer service workers. The important conversation arose after the woman shared a disturbing video on TikTok depicting how she was treated by airport staff while attempting to get to her gate. The incident left the woman in tears and the rest of social media outraged on her behalf. 


The woman claims that the airport staff began pushing her wheelchair without her permission. 

The aftermath of the experience was captured and posted by TikTok user @chronically_lottie. Lottie, who has fibromyalgia and requires the use of a wheelchair, was going on holiday and traveling via plane. While she was in the airport, an airline staff member suddenly grabbed her wheelchair handles and began pushing her in a certain direction without letting her know first. 

When Lottie attempts to stand up for herself, the staff member ignores her, continues pushing her, and claims that he knows what he’s doing since he’s been “doing this job for seven years.” The conversation only goes downhill from there when another staff member jumps in after Lottie tells the man that he “should know about basic respect” and ask a wheelchair user before you push them. 


“Please don’t speak to my staff like that,” the other staff member can be heard saying. “Do you want me to take you back to the gate because I can.” 



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“You’re now threatening me because I’m asking for basic human rights of being respected!” Lottie points out. 


The male employee then complains that Lottie is becoming “one of the most awkward passengers I’ve ever met.” 

The incident quickly becomes overwhelming for Lottie, who bursts into tears out of frustration. 

“I’m a wheelchair user, surely I know how disabled people should be treated,” she says. 

When she points out that it is scary for a wheelchair user when someone pushes them without asking first, the female employee argues that she did in fact let her know beforehand. However, Lottie claims that she did not hear her. 

“Please don’t make a mountain out of a mole hole!” the employee berates Lottie. 

“It’s a shame that you’re going away on a plane and you’ve wound yourself up,” the male employee adds. 


Lottie shares that the difficult conversation was “one of many” she had with the airline staff prior to the video being taken. 

“I was not being listened to. You would think that when your job is to help disabled people you would be more educated and kinder,” Lottie wrote in the caption of the video. She claimed that five different staff members at the airport pushed her wheelchair without asking or warning her first, and took some of her items that she says she could have grabbed herself. Lottie adds that she suffered a panic attack as a result of the stressful interaction and that her mother had to call her phone and talk to the airline staff herself. 

People were infuriated by the airline staff’s treatment of Lottie. “How dare they speak to you in that way!? Absolutely make a formal complaint,” one TikTok user commented. 

“They could have de-escalated this so quickly. They just kept adding more inconsiderate comments. That was genuinely awful to listen to… sending hugs,” another user wrote.


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Other people, primarily those with disabilities, could not help but resonate with Lottie’s situation and called for the treatment of disabled individuals to change. 

“As someone else with fibromyalgia people are so ignorant these with these kinda things,” one user noted. “My partner is in a chair, he ALWAYS gets this sort of treatment and it’s infuriating,” another user shared. 

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), millions of people with disabilities travel on flights every year, and a chunk of them encounter difficulties and mistreatment from airline staff. In 2021, DOT received 1,394 disability-related complaints from fliers. 

Even if airport customer service members deal with people who have disabilities every day, it does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly treat them. Sometimes, like in Lottie’s situation, they grab someone’s wheelchair and drag them as if they are a piece of luggage. What many of them fail to realize is that a wheelchair is an extension of their body, just like arms and legs are to able-bodied people. You would not appreciate it if someone came up behind you and grabbed your arm without asking if they wanted you to move out of the way. It is the same concept for wheelchair users. 


Still, most people do not seem to understand that. Bronwyn Berg, who uses a wheelchair to get around, took to Twitter to recall a terrifying incident where a man grabbed her wheelchair handles and began pushing her down the street while she was leaving the shops. Not a single person stopped to help her despite her cries. 

"I thought, I'm alone here. I'm not safe in this world…I felt invisible,” Berg told CBC. 


She has an important message for not only the man who grabbed her but for everyone who simply sat back and watched it happen. "Our assistive devices are a part of our body. We aren't furniture that can be moved around." 

Even disabled people who do not use wheelchairs encounter others inappropriately grabbing them. Amy Kavanagh, an activist in London who is visually impaired, began a campaign called #JustAskDontGrab after she experienced several people grabbing at her cane in public spaces. The idea of the campaign is to spread awareness and spread awareness about the correct way to treat those with disabilities. 

"I encouraged people to use the hashtag to raise awareness of the issue and how to offer assistance in a positive respectful way,” she told CBC. 

Just because someone uses a wheelchair or a cane, it does not mean that they are incapable of getting around themselves.

If you need them to move, simply tap them on the shoulder and politely ask them to, like you would do to any able-bodied person. 


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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.