First off, it took me a while to realize there were TWO different stories here. I kept seeing headlines about Jetstar Airways treating a disabled passenger wrongly and it took me a while they did it TWICE.
Most recently a blind couple, Glen Bracegirdle and Kathryn Beaton, arrived at the Melbourne airport, wanting to board their flight with their guide dog. The ticket agent screamed, “no dogs, no dogs, no dogs,” even though Jetstar’s own policy allows guide dogs to travel with disabled passengers. Instead of getting in a huge confrontation with the airline, the couple booked with another. They received an apology from Jetstar, but they still plan on reporting the incident to the Human Rights Commission.
About a month ago Kurt Fearnley, a paralympic champion, was asked by Jetstar to check his own wheel chair. They did offer to let him have one of theirs, but stated he would have to be pushed by airline staff. Fearnley wasn’t so keen about giving up his independence and be wheeled around by someone else. He said the equivalent for an able-bodied person “would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport.” To protest the treatment, Fearnley declined their wheelchair and pulled himself on the ground to the gate.
”People with disability have the same right to travel by air as the rest of the population,” commented Bill Shorten, the Australian government’s parliamentary secretary for disabilities. “They should not be treated like children or as an inconvenience.” Being asked about the multiple incidents Jetstar has had recently he added: “I’m furious. I’m sick of hearing about it.”
Airline spokesman Simon Westaway insisted that both reports were isolated occurrences, telling the local press that Jetstar has a “great record” for handling disabled passengers. But the federal government has rejected claims the incidents are unrelated. I hope Jetstar is right and this doesn’t happen again.
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