Advocates for the disabled are asking U.S. airlines to treat wheelchairs as a part of the body – which they are, for many – in light of reports of numerous damages of the special chairs.
The latest Air Travel Consumer Report showed there were 834 incidents of ‘mishandled’ wheelchairs in July of 2021, an average of 28 a day.

"Wheelchairs should be treated like a human limb because they're my legs," says U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth , who lost her legs during the Iraq War, where she served as a helicopter pilot. Her chopper was hit by a rocket.
"When you break my wheelchair, or you lose my wheelchair, you've taken away my legs,” Duckworth told Business Insider. "Once I was on a flight and a solid titanium tube was snapped in half. It held the seat together, and I sank right through. What were they doing, landing the plane on it?

Disability advocates, activists, and wheelchair users who fly often are urging a switch in the narrative: instead of saying wheelchairs are being broken, view them as a part of the body that is being destroyed.
"If you treat the wheelchair as an extension of a person, there's no way it would be destroyed,” Duckworth said.
But he major airlines have adopted very few policies for the carrying of wheelchairs, according to publicly available and press comments sent to Insider.
Hawaiian Airlines had a mishandling rate of 2 percent of their enplaned wheelchairs in July. Its policy states that electric and non-folding wheelchairs are stowed. Manual wheelchairs may be stored in an in-cabin cupboard. They did not respond to Insider's request for further information on handling policies.
American Airlines also had a rate of 2 percent of the 11,160 wheelchairs it carried in July. It told Insider that wheelchairs get loaded and strapped down in the cargo compartment.