Being deaf presents many challenges in the world, many that most of us wouldn’t ever think of, like a dispute with a gate agent at the airport. We’ve all been there before, when the gate agent doesn’t do what another person from the airline has assured us will be handled. For a deaf couple, a simple ordeal like this turned into a major nightmare.
Melissa Elmira Yingst and her girlfriend, Socorro Garcia, were in Detroit and about to catch a flight home to Los Angeles when everything went sideways. According to the couple, they realized they would not be sitting together on the flight and when they arrived to check in, the agent told them that she would make a note and the gate agent would remedy the situation. Instead, when they got to the gate, the gate agent told them that she would not be able to fulfill the request. What happens next seems to be in dispute.
When the women arrived at the gate and were told that their request wasn’t possible, they say they attempted to communicate with agent by typing into a iPhone. They claim the agent rolled her eyes while trying to talk to them, but they apparently had a hard time understanding and repeatedly asked her to write down her response. Eventually she wrote on a piece of paper that the flight was full and she would not be able to accommodate their request. According to the couple, rather than respond to another question, the agent, identified as ‘Felicia,’ allegedly crumpled up the paper and threw it away, which seems to have insulted the couple as they were hoping to use the same paper to further the conversation.
At this point things get a bit hazy. Delta originally claimed Socorro then aggressively moved behind the counter in an attempt to retrieve the paper from the trash. The couple claim that it was the agent that shoved Socorro when she moved towards the trash can to get the note.
While it’s unclear who shoved whom, what is clear is that at that point, the agent kicked them off the fight and called the police to have them removed. They ended up staying in a hotel near the airport and catching a flight home the next day, but not before doing that most 21st Century thing – complaining on social media.
EXPERIENCING AIRPORT DISCRIMINATION
The "infamous" Deaf airport discrimination experience happened to us tonight with Delta Air Lines, Delta airlines at DTW. No one in our community is immune to this kind of oppression. Video Description – Melissa and Socorro are both wearing green shirts and are seated in front of a blue wall with lights. (Transcript in comments)Posted by MELMIRA on Sunday, January 27, 2019
Yingst and Garcia took to social media and the video quickly went viral. The couple explained their side of the story and the pain it had caused them, saying “This really isn’t about us not being able to sit together but how they handled communication and refused to provide us access to the needs we asked for.”
With the issue now out, Delta promised to look into the situation more. According to the couple, things have now been resolved between them and their airlines. In a follow up video, they said:
“We met with Delta last week. Our concerns and experiences were validated through positive conversations with them. They have apologized to us. Our remedies are being met but better yet, they have pledged support to our suggested resolutions of improved awareness and employee training. From day one, our goal was to always work with Delta in a positive direction, and we were happy to see that Delta wanted this as well.”
UPDATE WITH DELTA AIRLINES
Hola!Many of you have checked in to see what the latest is with our situation regarding Delta airlines. We are grateful for the community support we have received. From day one, our goal was to always work with Delta in a positive direction, so we are happy to be sharing this update. (Video Description – Melissa and Socorro are wearing black and sitting in front of a bookshelf) (Transcript in comments)Posted by MELMIRA on Wednesday, February 6, 2019