- A passenger said Icelandair forgot his wheelchair on his flights both to and from New York.
- In total, Michael Strunk Kristiansen spent five days without his custom-fitted chair, he told Insider.
- Icelandair never offered him any compensation, Kristiansen told Insider in an interview.
A passenger says he was left without his custom-made wheelchair for days after Icelandair forgot to put it on his flight to New York, then did the same on the return journey.
Michael Strunk Kristiansen flew from Copenhagen, Denmark to John F. Kennedy Airport on July 6, with a connection at Keflavik Airport in Iceland. A series of operations around six months ago have left him unable to walk unaided, meaning he has to use crutches as well as a manual, foldable wheelchair.
Kristiansen’s trip to New York with his wife was his first time flying with his wheelchair.
“It was a great disappointment,” he told Insider.
Before boarding his flight in Copenhagen, Kristiansen dropped his wheelchair off at the Icelandair desk in a bag he’d hired that’s designed for transporting wheelchairs on planes. He said the airport provided him with a wheelchair while he waited to board and then he walked onto the plane using his crutches.
Upon arrival in Iceland, staff brought his wheelchair to the gate, but Kristiansen told them he didn’t need it because the airport had supplied him with one for his 85-minute transfer.
But it appears staff never put his wheelchair back onto the plane.
Kristiansen said he found out after waiting for around two hours at baggage claim in New York that the wheelchair hadn’t made it onto the flight. He said that Icelandair staff told him the chair wasn’t on the plane and didn’t supply him with a temporary chair.
“I had to stay in the house for two full days before I got my wheelchair,” Kristiansen told Insider.
“It’s not like we can just go out and buy a new wheelchair because it’s really pricey,” he continued, adding that his chair was custom-fitted.
But that wasn’t the end of Kristiansen’s travel woes. After waiting for an hour after arriving home in Copenhagen, he found out that the airline also forgot to board his wheelchair on the return journey on July 18, even though staff at JFK had promised him that his chair would make it on the flight, he told Insider.
He didn’t get his chair until three days later, he said.
Kristiansen’s return tickets for himself and his wife had totaled $6,735, his booking confirmation shows. He had bought the most expensive type of tickets — Saga Premium, Icelandair’s equivalent of business class — because he thought this would provide more protection for his wheelchair.
Icelandair never offered him any compensation, Kristiansen said. The airline did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Passengers are facing mounting travel chaos worldwide due to a combination of understaffing, soaring demand for travel, technical issues, and strikes.
Some travelers have experienced flight delays and cancellations, lost luggage, and huge lines for check-in and security, but in some cases airlines and airports have forgotten to put wheelchairs on board flights or have lost them in transit.
One passenger told Insider that he had spent two days of his vacation in Ireland without his wheelchair because Delta had forgotten to put it on the plane at JFK, then broke his chair on the flight home.
Have you been affected by current travel disruptions? Or do you work at an airport or for an airline that’s swamped by staffing and cancellation chaos? Email this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.