This wasn’t my personal experience with AirTran, mercifully.
But I can relate. Note to the FAA, TSA, DOT, and every airline on the planet–those customers using wheelchairs at the airport are human beings and should be treated as such. Every single time, by every single member of airport and airplane personnel, without exception. If the nice young woman who’s using your wheelchair assist service says that she’s capable of performing the functions of an exit-row passenger, assume that she can. Just like you assume this of every other exit-row passenger.
In point of fact, Ms. Mueller is probably far more cognizant of her physical abilities than the vast majority of walk-on passengers. Why? Because she’s *had* to think about it. Lots and lots. That’s the case for many people with disabilities–we spend our lives judging what we can and can’t do physically. We know our ability level better than pretty much every gate agent in every airport in the world.
Memo to AirTran, Delta, and all other airlines, yet again: You need to change your attitude about people with disabilities. Our numbers are growing, and we’re traveling more and more. Soon we’ll be 15% of your customer base. Or not. Your choice.