Browsing Tag: Handicapped

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: Orig Image: David McKelvey

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Image is black and white except for the red star.

Image is black and white except for the red star.

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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