The US Department of Transportation has opened an investigation into disabled veteran Jim Stanek allegations of abuse and animal cruelty against United Airlines.
This is a developing story. Updated July 24, 20.54 GMT
Lindsey Stanek, CEO and Co-Founder of Paws and Stripes issued a statement on Sunday, saying that she received confirmation that the DoT is conducting an investigation into Jim Stanek complaint against United Airlines.
Jim Stanek, who suffers from chronic severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, travelled with his service dog Sarge to a fundraiser in Knoxville, TN. On July 15, he started his journey back to Rio Rancho, NM.
His United Airlines flight home connected in Dulles DC, one of United main hubs. At Dulles, Stanek was left with little to no help for three days. The disabled veteran also alleges his service dog Sarge was kicked twice by United employees. A United customer service rep allegedly called Stanek "retarded".
He finally obtained to be rebooked on a different airline and reached home on July 17.
"We are reaching out to the customer directly to discuss the events that he described," a spokesperson for United Airlines told Reduced Mobility Rights on July 21.
"United Airlines has contacted us, asking what happened and informing us that they have 30 days to look into it," Lindsey Stanek confirmed on Sunday.
Jim and Sarge are said to be recovering from their ordeal. "Jim is trying to bounce back, but the trip has made a noticeable effect on him," Lindsey Stanek said. "Sarge has been taken off duty to rest, and she is still very jumpy."
This is a developing story. Update July 24, 20.54 GMT
Jim Stanek notified the airline he would require assistance during his journey. "As I had booked Jim's flight through cheaptickets, Jim made sure that the airline was aware of his needs every step of the way while traveling," Lindsey Stanek told Reduced Mobility Rights.
During his ordeal, Stanek frequently asked check in, and customer service staff to talk to the Complaint Resolution Official. He was then told that there were no CRO's he could speak with, just a supervisor.
Under the law protecting the rights of disabled passengers in the United States (CFR14 Part 382), airlines must have a CRO on duty at all times at each airport served.
The airline employees must promptly notify the passenger of the right to call a CRO and then contact a CRO on the passenger's behalf or provide the passenger a way to do so.
Reduced Mobility Rights repeatedly asked United Airlines to confirm or deny Mr Stanek's account. United declined to comment "out of respect for Mr Stanek and our co-workers."
About the author
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Reduced Mobility Rights, Roberto Castiglioni has deep knowledge of PRM regulations and handling procedures, along with first-hand experience as travelling companion and carer of a passenger with reduced mobility.
Roberto is a member of ESAAG. Chaired by the Hon. David Blunkett MP, the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group, ESAAG, provides easyjet with strategic guidance and practical advice on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance.