The son of a Delta passenger with multiple sclerosis claims his mother was tied to a wheelchair with blankets by airline employees.
Maria Saliagas, who suffers from MS, was traveling to Europe with her husband on April 1, but their trip took a devastating turn after a troubling incident at the Amsterdam airport, during which her son alleges she was bound to a wheelchair by Delta employees after she began slipping out of the seat.
Her son, Nathan Saliagas, told WSB-TV on Tuesday that the wheelchair didn’t come with straps to help her sit upright.
“They took a dirty blanket and tied her forcefully with it, and she has bruise marks on this part of her arm,” he said, pointing to his bicep, “which is where it was tied.”
“I definitely know that they’re a good airline, I’m not doubting that at all, but in this specific situation, there was no courtesy, no respect,” he continued. “There was complete operations failure.”
According to WSB-TV, the couple was offered 20,000 free SkyMiles, but they said that “was not enough,” saying they wanted to see the airline’s policies concerning people with disabilities change.
Nathan posted on Facebook that the airline “decided to physically and emotionally abuse my mother,” adding, “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. When she started crying, she was told to ‘shut the f— up’ or she will be ‘left there.’”
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“This highly inhumane and disgusting treatment by Delta Airlines is unacceptable and a need for change,” he added.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a Delta spokesperson said, “We are disappointed that our customers didn’t feel they had a well-cared-for travel experience and will ensure that their return flight exceeds expectations. While Delta always looks for ways to improve the overall experience, our findings do not align with details shared by the customer’s family.”
An investigation conducted by the airline confirmed Saliagas told employees she was “slipping” from her wheelchair, at which point she “agreed to blankets being offered as a way to provide comfort and secure her to the wheelchair,” but noted the blankets “were taken from their sealed, original plastic wrap.” It also claims that an airport-contracted wheelchair company was responsible for the transfer, not the airline.