Friday, February 27, 2009

Jetstar refuses to let wheelchair-bound man board plane

A WHEELCHAIR-bound man felt humiliated at a foreign airport when Jetstar refused to let him on board because he couldn't walk.

Glen McDonnell, 36, had travelled with the budget carrier from Darwin to Thailand via Singapore. 

But when he was boarding the plane at Bangkok for his return flight, Jetstar staff told him they were unable to take him home. 

Speaking from Bangkok airport yesterday, Mr McDonnell told theNorthern Territory News that he felt humiliated. 

"They told me I'm not allowed on the plane," he said. "I think it's very discriminating." 

Mr McDonnell, who was left paraplegic after a motorcycle accident when he was 15 years old, travelled by himself to Thailand on December 2 for a two-month holiday. 

His trip turned into a nightmare when he faced staff at the boarding gate in Bangkok. 

"I checked in my luggage and went through customs and all that," the psychology student said. 

"And then the station manager asked me if I could walk at all. I said no and he said I wasn't allowed on board. 

"He was quite arrogant about it." 

Mr McDonnell, who lives in Wagaman, said that he had to check out again and wait for his luggage to return. 

However, he said that after his "making a fuss" the airline booked him on another flight last night and gave him a $150 voucher for a hotel room in Singapore. 

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said while Jetstar Asia was a separate company, Jetstar was looking into the incident.

"We want to get to the bottom of it.  I don't know whether or not the airline is at fault here," he said.

"Our organisation in Australia has a very proactive approach to the way we manage customers who require wheelchair assistance."

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