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Jetstar Slammed For Refusing To Board Paralympian With Wheelchair

Jetstar slammed for refusing to board Paralympian with wheelchair

Jetstar has been slammed for refusing to allow Australian Paralympian Karni Liddell to board a flight with her wheelchair.

Liddell immediately posted an online video to express her frustration over the incident, reports Nine Newspapers:

“I can fly, but I can’t take my wheelchair. You can’t make this stuff up.

“I did say to the lady that’d be like me saying: ‘You can go but just take your legs off’, and she told me to stop being rude.”

Jetstar slammed for refusing wheelchair

Liddell booked a flight from Brisbane to the Whitsundays to attend a domestic violence workshop as guest speaker.

But on arrival at the airport, check-in staff refused to allow her to take her wheelchair on board because it is powered by a lithium battery.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority class lithium batteries as dangerous goods due to their fire risk.

However, Liddell insists she had a dangerous goods certificate issued by both Qantas and Jetstar.

Despite this, staff told her she still needed to give five days’ notice and fill in additional documents.

Wheelchair Lithium Battery Jetstar slammed for refusing to board Paralympian with wheelchair

Lithium batteries used to power wheelchairs create a fire risk on aircraft.

Not treated like real people

An emotional Liddell said she is tired of companies like Jetstar treating people with disabilities not as real people.

“I’m acting like I’m fine. I’m not fine. It’s 2022 and I can’t count the number of flights I have been kicked off or rejected from because of being in a chair having batteries.

“People can travel with their surfboards and prams and bikes, golf bags, but I can’t fly with my wheelchair.

“Now I’m just hanging out in my lounge room all dressed up nowhere to go and I’m just tired of the fight. I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t know how much I can fight to just do the basics like fly, deliver a speech and make money.”

Jetstar slammed for refusing to board Paralympian with wheelchair

Jetstar apologised to Liddell and said the problem happened as a result of a third-party vendor booking the flight.

Booking made through third party

In a statement, Jetsar said it has apologised to Liddell, refunded her ticket and provided her with a travel voucher.

The airline said a third party travel vendor booked Liddell’s ticket, and failed to include a request to travel with a 25kg lithium battery-powered wheelchair.

“We will reach out to our travel partners to ensure all requirements for customers travelling with a battery-powered wheelchair are clearly communicated on each booking to prevent situations like this happening again the future.”

History of discrimination

The incident is the latest involving Jetstar and people with disabilities.

Previously, paraplegic man Darren Haunold criticised the airline for not providing wheelchair access to toilets on it’s A320 flights from Busselton in WA to Melbourne.

Haunold had to travel an additional six hours as a result of the restriction.

Then there’s James Hall-Thompson who was born without a radial bone in his left forearm.

In 2019, Jetstar staff forced him to move from an exit row despite his ability to operate the emergency exit.

Finally in 2009, Jetstar apologised to Paralympian Kurt Fearnley. He criticised the airline after staff made him check his personal wheelchair in with his luggage.

Fearnley said at the time he chose to crawl through Brisbane Airport rather than use an unsuitable chair offered by the airline.

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Meanwhile, Greens Senator and disability advocate Jordan Steele-John said disability discrimination is common in the airline industry.

“They are not only in the dark ages on this issue, they’re belligerently attempting to stay there,” he said.

“Jetstar, particularly, are repeat offenders in this area. I think the time has come for them to change their attitude and ensure that their services are accessible for customers.”

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