Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When you employee tens of thousands of people, things are going to go wrong.

The trouble is, if you're United Airlines, when things go wrong, they'll likely become public.

So it was that Tyler Schilhabel, unhappy with his treatment at the hands of United, took to Facebook to tell his story.

His trip with the airline didn't begin well: 

Courtney and I flew to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon, when we landed they didn't have an aisle chair (my normal chair is too wide to take on the plane) or ramp/elevator to help me off the plane, only a flight of stairs. So I had to scoot down the aisle on my butt to get off and then hop down step by step to get to my chair.

There's surely an indignity in that.

When an airline flies narrowbody planes, with narrow aisles, the least it can do for the disabled is make sure they can navigate those narrow aisles. 

Schilhabel, a football coach, is paraplegic. As he told ABC7 in Chicago, he had already encountered problems when he and his wife were trying to make a connection at Chicago's O'Hare airport, on their way to the Dominican Republic from Los Angeles.

It was only the decency of a United Flight Attendant that ensured they made their connection.

Schilhabel explained: 

One of the flight attendants, who knew that I was in a rush and the aisle chair wasn't there, he actually picked me up, lifted me and put me into my normal chair so that I could make my connecting flight.

United has made strenuous efforts to improve its customer service.

Indeed, a recent incident involving a elderly woman who was having trouble walking down the aisle shows that at least some United Flight Attendants are taking it to heart. (The Flight Attendant squatted in the aisle, so that she could lean on their shoulders.)

But here, despite this Flight Attendant helping Schilhabel, we're still confronted with the image of a paraplegic passenger being forced to drag himself down the aisle in order to get off the plane. As it turned out, more than once.

The caustic will insist it reminds them of Dr. David Dao who was dragged down the aisle of a United flight, leading to one of the most image-damaging episodes any airline has endured in recent times.

For Schilhabel, the difficulties didn't end with the outbound experience:

Then today on our way home for our connecting flight in Chicago they didn't have an aisle chair again except this time we were in the very back of the plane so I once again had to scoot all the way down on my butt.

Schilhabel says he dragged himself along the floor for 31 rows.

This now reaches beyond the notion that everyone makes mistakes. 

In the Dominican Republic, the lift that would have helped him get off the plane was broken. Another one has been ordered.

But when Schilhabel encountered similar problems at O'Hare on his way home as he had on his way out, it's right to wonder how this could possibly have happened.

I asked the airline for its perspective. A spokesperson told me: 

We are proud to operate an airline that doesn't just include people with disabilities but welcomes them as customers. In fact, thousands of people with disabilities fly United every day. That said, this incident falls far short of our own high standard of caring for our customers. We have been in touch with the customer to apologize and assure him that the errors that led to this situation are extremely rare.

This incident? Or these incidents?

Many will wonder how this could have happened. And not just once.

Schilhabel said he told the airline of his needs far in advance of his honeymoon. Somehow, though, his needs weren't met.

He told ABC7:

I know everybody has travel horror stories, but this was completely ridiculous. I've flown United my last 6 flights and each time they've either been late with getting an aisle chair to me or didn't have one at all. Needless to say, I won't be using their business anytime soon.

You might think, then, that Schilhabel is one of the more forgiving passengers.

When it comes to customer service, mistakes are inevitable and customers do forgive.

Here, though, we have the same passenger, the same mistake and the same indignity.

More than once on the same trip.

Many will think there's no excuse for that.

Published on: Jan 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.