Should Jetstar just add these signs to their planes?

Should Jetstar just add these signs to their planes?

Back in December I blogged about a wheelchair-bound passenger who had a terrible experience with JetStar. I was hoping that would be the end of Jetstar’s poor treatment of disabled passengers, but unfortunately it was not.

Jude Lee is disabled, needing a wheelchair, and last August wanted to fly from Darwin to Melbourne on Jetstar. The airplane was not at a jetway and an airline employee informed him the lift was broken. Lee claims he was treated like “troublesome baggage” as a male employee carried him onto the aircraft.

Then January of this year Lee was looking to fly from Singapore to Darwin. He was checked in and waiting at the gate to board, when he was told the airline did not have an aisle wheel chair. Again, to be able to fly he had to be carried onto the plane by hand.

Jetstar does not deny the fact that Lee was carried on the aircraft, but they do deny they broke the Anti-Discrimination Act.

This is where it gets bad. In Jetstar’s reply they state, “Given the nature of its operations, Jetstar does not have the systems, staff or facilities to provide the same level of special assistance to its passengers as provided by full cost carriers.”

Wow. If you read my blog, you know I try my best to defend airlines and look at the positive spin. I was hopeful Jetstar would learn from their mistakes when this happened previously. But to do this twice to the same passenger and not even be sorry about it? I am sorry, but that is a total disgrace to the other airlines out there that work hard to treat each and every passenger equally.

Lee wishes he would have more options, but states that due to his regular business travel, Jetstar is the only option. “I find myself embarrassed, harassed and having to constantly plead my case with improperly trained Jetstar staff just for the right to be treated equally and to simply board its planes almost every time I travel,” he said in his complaint.

Lee is a lawyer and is in the process of suing the Jetstar for his treatment and the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has determined that Jude Lee has a case.

I hope that Jetstar can see that just because they are a low cost carrier, doesn’t mean they have the ability to treat passengers with disabilities at a lower level. I understand that when you pay a lower fare, you will get less service. But no matter how low the fare is, each and every passenger should have the basic rights of being treated like a human being.

Jetstar is a low-cost subsidiary of Qantas and has a fleet of about 50 airbus aircraft flying to 30 destinations around Australia and Asia.

Source: News.com.au Orig Image: David McKelvey

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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3 Comments
Robin Johnson

My wife uses a manual, folding wheelchair. We live in Hobart, Tasmania, and in order to get anywhere we have to take a domestic flight, often with Jetstar. Hobart airport does not have jetways, but we have had no problems with boarding via catering lift. Even Tiger, the most basic of the Australian domestic carriers, has never caused us a problem with taking our own wheelchair planeside, and checking it there. But my wife can maneuver herself aboard the plane, and does not need those tine on-board wheelchairs.
I guess a lot depends on staff at the airport in question.

There is a perception here in Australia, because Jetstar is replacing Qantas on many leisure routes, that they are intending to reduce the quality of service, but there is no possible excuse for the sort of offhand treatment you write of. All power to lawyer Lee’s action!

Hey Robin! Thanks for sharing.

From what I can see, this has a lot to do with the attitude of the staff. I mean if all means to get a disabled person on the plane are broken, a passenger might be given a choice. Either they can be re-booked or be carried on the airplane. Of course if they are carried, it shouldn’t be a burden and be treated with respect.

It seems that Jetstar might have been disrespectful and they see nothing wrong with their actions.

I asked if they had a comment on my blog and I have not heard back from them.

David

Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me. While I don’t agree with discrimination it appears this guy may have been out looking for it, a lawyer trying to create evidence for a case. If the airport is too small to have jetways and their one lift happens to be broken what other options are there shoot him from a cannon onto the plane? They did what seems to be reasonable and got him aboard. Why did he feel like troublesome baggage? Did the airline employees treat him disrespectfully? In the previous two examples the Ticket agent said no dogs, as a couple approached and they just gave up and didn’t want to discuss it. They could have politely explain that the dog was an assitance dog due to the condition and may have not even had an issue. And the other example it appears that normal wheel chairs do not fit in the aisles and it seems that Jetstar provided a reasonable alternative to allow the customer to fly and still be able to manuever aboard the plane.

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