Warning: If you have high blood pressure then don’t read this story. Cory Lee, an award-winning travel blogger and my friend, recently had a horrendous experience aboard a Delta flight after they landed in Atlanta. A brief background on Cory: He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, got hist first wheelchair at the age of four, and has rolled around the world ever since. The latter is no exaggeration. RELATED: Here’s my 39 travel questions interview with Cory Lee from when we were all stuck at home at the height of the pandemic.

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Cory has been to over 40 countries and to all seven continents. He’s truly an inspiration to so many, including me, and to many wheelchair users. I’ve been fortunate to spend time with Cory at travel shows and conferences and have seen so many people approach Cory to thank him for sharing the stories of his inspiring travels on his website, social media (Instagram, Facebook), TV and in his children’s book, Let’s Explore With Cor Cor.


The incident I’m about to tell you about happened on November 13 when Cory and his remarkable mother returned home from a 10-day trip to Chile. Less than two weeks later, he’s in Hawaii.

Here’s what Cory posted on Instagram when he and his mom landed from Santiago, along with a video of the encounter:

”WORST AIRPORT EXPERIENCE EVER! ✈️ This morning, after arriving back home in Atlanta, the crew refused to bring my wheelchair to the door of the plane. I told the airport crew and flight attendants that I would just stay on the plane until my wheelchair was brought to the door of the plane & they immediately got livid. A Delta flight attendant literally threatened us by saying TSA would ‘make us get off with their guns.’ 😳

By law, according to the Air Carrier Access Act, they are required to bring the wheelchair as close to the plane as possible and you do not have to get off the plane until they do so. I have flown into the Atlanta airport hundreds of times & they have always brought my wheelchair to the door of the plane. I don’t know why they were so adamant about not bringing it today, but to threaten us with guns?! What in the world?!

After threatening us, and us still saying that we needed my wheelchair brought to the door of the plane since I can’t sit upright in an aisle chair for an extended period of time, the ground crew guy (Mr. Flowers) was very apologetic and found a way to quickly bring my wheelchair to the plane door. After being threatened with guns, it was relieving to have his help and kindness.

Today, this flight attendant from @delta and multiple members of the Atlanta airport staff showed that they do NOT care about passengers with disabilities or the Air Carrier Access Act to the point that I was threatened with guns to get off the plane, despite my wheelchair not being there for me. I have had a lot of wild travel experiences across 40 countries over the past 9 years, but this one was hands-down the worst of all. Delta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport need a serious awakening (and a LOT of empathy!!!!!!!).”

Cory is right in so many ways, from the Air Carrier Access Act to Delta flight attendants and airport staff needing more empathy.

I mean, I understand the flight attendants are tired after a long, overnight flight and they don’t get paid while parked at the gate with the door open but come on. Have some empathy! And then, to threaten Cory with guns? This is insane and a soon-to-be PR nightmare for both Delta and the ATL airport.

The PR nightmare is already beginning; here are just a few of the major publications covering this debacle:
Fox News: Delta flight attendant tells wheelchair passenger that TSA will make him get off plane ‘with their guns’
The Independent: Cory Lee: Disabled travel blogger threatened with ‘TSA guns’ by Delta flight attendant in wheelchair row
Daily Mail: Delta cabin crew threaten disabled man they’ll remove him ‘with guns’

In an interview with FOX News, Cory said “it can take up to an hour for his wheelchair to get to the jet bridge and the aisle chair is uncomfortable and puts him at risk for developing pressure sores. Cory said it was his request to wait for his wheelchair to be brought to the aircraft that angered the flight attendants and a supervisor. “They were talking to each other, saying, ‘He just doesn’t want to get off the plane,'” Lee told Fox News Digital. “Believe me, I definitely wanted to get off the plane.”

The part that really makes your blood boil is when the flight attendant told him to exit the plane and wait for his wheelchair in the aisle chair — or the TSA would make him “get off the aircraft with all their guns and stuff.”

First of all, the TSA officers don’t have guns and secondly if they did get him off the aircraft without his chair being at the door, Cory would be able to buy the airline after he took them to court.

According to The U.S. Department of Transportation website, “You can request that your wheelchair or walker be returned to you on the jet way at your destination airport and not the baggage claim area. Airlines are required to return wheelchairs to users as closely as possible to the door of the aircraft if requested.”

One of the things Cory would like is “is the opportunity to speak to flight attendants, Delta corporate and ground crews about interacting with people with disabilities.” He said: “They need accessibility training and to hear from actual people with disabilities like myself. They need to understand the impact their words have.”

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16 Comments On "VIDEO: Delta Flight Attendant Threatens Wheelchair Passenger That TSA Will Make Him Get Off Plane 'With Their Guns'"
  1. Haywood Jablowme|

    He should have gotten his fat butt off the plane when he was asked.

  2. Carol L|

    The guns comment was totally uncalled for. I have seen pressure/bed sores. They are awful. You want to avoid them at all costs. I understand it’s a lot easier to prevent them than to treat them. I have never had a problem with my son’s wheelchair being brought to us and while we waited no one threatened us off the plane.

  3. James Cygnus|

    Not surprised this happened in Atlanta. One of the worst airports and city in the world

  4. Anonymous|

    What part of that he has spinal muscular atrophy dosont you get? What a dumb ….

  5. Lori Stevens-Smith|

    Your friend should only fly Southwest. They give preferential boarding to the disabled AND have a wheel chair available for ALL who require it.

  6. Gordon|

    Cory is correct. End of story. I have had issues with airlines in general because of a disability condition not so visible as Cory’s. As an individual with a ‘hidden’ disability, the challenges in life can be numerous not to mention the challenge of flying with unresponsive flight attendants. The first challenge occurs immediately upon booking a flight. Do I share my needs for possible accommodations up front (?) – rarely needed but necessary if accommodations are needed say, halfway through a flight – or do I allow myself the luxury of flying without identifying myself as possibly needing accommodations when I really prefer to be an inconspicuous ‘normal’ flying public member. I have done it both ways with mixed results; flip a coin and I have the same odds of having a horrific flight or not. Go figure. Yet I have to fly for my livelihood as being a welfare recipient is not in my lexicon. Through the Invisible Disabilities Association, I did learn that a flagship Turkish Airlines is touting their pro-activeness for all travelers with disabilities; respectfully so as the accommodations are reportedly done without publicly identifying (other than select flight crew) the individual as disabled. I have not flown this particular airline thus cannot provide specific feedback as to any experiences thereof. But the mindset/attitude seems right on and U.S. airlines should try and emulate such a strategy which I also understand requires enough documentation thwarting potential abuse of this type of benefit.

  7. Nunya|

    He wasn’t asked he was threatened…and aren’t you a sweetheart? Hope you’re shown empathy when you find yourself in a compromising situation.

  8. Karen|

    remind me to never fly on Delta! the attendant was totally out of line and should be fired immediately.

  9. Jennifer Mavens|

    It does not surprise me that this happened at Hartfield Jackson. ATL is the worst airport with the absolute worst employees anywhere in the world. Everyone there goes out of their way to make the experience as traumatic as possible for literally no reason. How they are able to find so many ignorant and incompetent individuals and put them under one roof is beyond comprehension, but whoever is in charge of the hiring there needs criminal charges brought against them. What they are doing is clearly well thought out and orchestrated in order to disrupt travel and mistreat passengers as much as possible. This isn’t an isolated event by any means.

  10. CHRISTOPHER GRAY|

    Look at them
    They are your prototypical Atlanta area employees as well as the haggard looking old woman
    It’s obvious they hate their jobs
    But..
    If a customer even so much breathes the word..
    “GUN”…Oh hell…Katy bar the door
    They will go ape$hit

  11. Max Weber|

    Is this a common occurrence? What did our Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg have to say about this?

  12. Adam|

    I worked ramp crew for united at Dulles for about 2 years. Fun job… Terrible union and pay. Whenever there was a passenger with a wheelchair, we did everything in our power to get it up to the plane asap. Glad to hear the ramp crew was at least nice to him.

  13. Michael|

    Really you couldn’t compromise a little bit.like you said they don’t get paid sitting at the gate and they are tired and how is it that a chair off the plain will give you sores but the chair your sitting in while on the plane doesn’t? I bet if there was a fire on that plane you would be screaming to be the first off

  14. Adam Kennedy|

    How TF does he go from one dumb FA spouting nonsense, to blaming the whole airline and airport? Also, who in their right mind, or as such an experienced traveler as he’s made out to be, would take the threat of TSA forcing someone off a plane with guns. He’s entitled to be upset that they didn’t bring the wheelchair to the door initially, but the rest is just attention-grabbing, fake outrage, and looking for 15 minutes of fame.

  15. RR|

    Being severely disabled (but in ways not visible other than when I’m in my wheelchair) I try hard to blend in and not impose on others. But that’s the reason I fly only on Southwest. They know how to make it work for everyone. These folks at DL in ATL all need mandatory training in “walk a mile in my shoes” or shall I truthfully say “crawl, limp, struggle, reel in pain, lose my balance over a mile in my shoes”. If I had a dime for every rude, indifferent, uncivil person that runs to get in front of me in the airport environment I’d be rich! To be fair, there are still some people who care enough to be civil and offer help. That includes some DL folks in some cities and on some flights. But sadly not enough to earn my business back. I’ve been all Southwest for over ten years and are very grateful they take such good care of disabled people.

  16. DJ|

    I know this is quite Stern but those b****** deserve a beat down and to be fired! This is beyond me that in this day and age someone would be treated like this. How would they like to be in the situation if the tables were turned!

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