Delta apologizes after woman says she was tied to wheelchair by staff

Delta Air Lines has issued an apology after a woman with multiple sclerosis said she was tied to a wheelchair after a flight to Europe earlier this month.

“We regret the perception our service has left on these customers,” Delta said in a statement reported by Atlanta’s WSB-TV.

“We have reached out to them, not only to resolve their concerns, but also to ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations.”


The ABC affiliate first reported the incident, which occurred when the airline did not have a wheelchair with straps to adequately suit Maria Saliagas’s needs when she and her husband landed in Amsterdam.

The woman’s son, Nathan Saliagas, wrote in a Facebook post that the airline “physically and emotionally abuse[d]” his mother when she flew from Atlanta, Ga., to the Netherlands on April 1.

“The Delta employee thought it would be appropriate to tie my mother with someone else’s dirty blanket, in such a way it has left bruise marks on her arms,” Saliagas said. “When she started crying, she was told to ‘shut the f— up’ or she will be ‘left there.'” 

The younger Saliagas said there is “a need for change” following the incident, which he called “highly inhumane.”

The woman’s experience comes a year after United Airlines faced a public relations crisis when a viral video showed a passenger being forcibly dragged off one of its flights. Lawmakers threatened legislative action last year in response to that video and called for additional consumer protections.

The incident this month also comes as the House prepares to vote on a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The legislation includes an amendment from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) that calls for an “Airline Passengers With Disabilities Bill of Rights” to protect travelers with disabilities.