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Delta breaks woman’s wheelchair, viral TikTok shows her left in tears

Gabrielle deFiebre and Bri Scalesse boarded a Delta Air Lines flight to Phoenix from New York on May 21 in anticipation of a relaxed girls trip.

They both placed instructions and notes for the airport staff who would be transporting their wheelchairs. Scalesse said for any wheelchair user, this is the worst part of traveling – placing “an extension of your body” into a stranger’s hands.

While getting off and on the plane, deFiebre sits in a small airport-provided chair, known as an aisle chair. Once she was placed off the aisle chair and into her own wheelchair, she immediately felt a sinking sensation in her stomach. The chair’s backrest was folded down and the wheel was “completely destroyed;” she said the wheel was bent in a way that it couldn’t propel forward.

DeFiebre was devastated. She burst into tears and explained to the Delta crew that her wheelchair is not just a chair but her life.

“It was scary for me. It is kind of mind-blowing to me that nondisabled people just get to get off a plane and go on their vacation and they don’t have to have that 20-minute anxiety of, what is my wheelchair, what are my basically legs going to look like when I get off this plane?” deFiebre, 32 from New York, told USA TODAY. “This is my life, my legs I told them.”

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