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Jetstar forces wheelchair passenger to crawl across tarmac

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Jetstar forces wheelchair passenger to crawl across tarmac

Old 23rd Nov 2009, 23:03
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Jetstar forces wheelchair passenger to crawl across tarmac

Jetstar apologises over Fearnley incident

Nov 24, 2009

Jetstar has apologised to Paralympian Kurt Fearnley after he criticised the airline for making him check his personal wheelchair in with his luggage.
Fearnley, a wheelchair marathon champion, says he chose to crawl through BrisbaneAirport rather than use an unsuitable chair offered by the airline.
Jetstar spoke to Fearnley's senior manager this morning before issuing a public apology.
In a statement, the airline said the complaint has been clarified and Jetstar would privately address the matter with Fearnley.
"Jetstar apologises to Fearnley for any embarrassment and hurt that may have been caused as it was not intended," the statement said.
"Our airline's policy for a passenger in a wheelchair being transported to and from a Jetstar aircraft, in the case of a self propelled chair, is that they are transferred from their own wheelchair into a specifically designed airline wheelchair at or near the boarding gate. "
Fearnley slammed Jetstar last night after being separated from his wheelchair at Brisbane airport.
He had just returned to the country after conquering the Kokoda Track.
The 28-year-old claimed he had to crawl across the tarmac and through a bathroom after refusing to travel in a wheelchair provided by the budget airline. He said he was unfamiliar with how the supplied wheelchair operated.
"I said there is not a chance that I am going to sit there and be pushed through an airport," Fearnley said.
"An able-bodied equivalent, a normal person's equivalent would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport."
Fearnley finished his gruelling Kokoda challenge last Wednesday after crawling ten days through the dense Papua New Guinea terrain in searing heat.
The trek began just a week after the NSW athlete won his fourth consecutive New York wheelchair marathon.
Fearnley, speaking at the National Disability Awards in Canberra last night, said Jetstar's rules took away a person with a disability's "right to chose".
blow.n.gasket is offline  
Old 23rd Nov 2009, 23:34
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His achievements are nothing short of inspirational but in this situation he's acted like a tool.

Airline wheelchairs are supplied so the person's chair can be safely loaded in the cargo hold in time for departure. Also, normal chairs don't fit down the aisles in the aircraft.

Jet* procedures are no different to any other airline at any other airport.
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 23:47
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Ah, no.

It seems from what I can gather that his chair was taken from him during the check in process.

He was unable to make his own way to the aircraft in his own chair to have it taken at the aircraft door for hold stowage.

This facility is routine for QF ops and people with these needs are understandably [very] protective of their wheel chairs.

QF policy allows for the chair to be delivered at the door for the passenger on disembarkation. Their relief on seeing it again is more often than not, palpable.

All thanks to those helpful ramp staff fellows.

This is for international ops. Domestic may differ.........
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 23:52
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Good on him for trying to to independent but there are times where you need others to help this also goes for able bodied passengers too.
there is not a chance that I am going to sit there and be pushed through an airport
Being pushed is going to humiliate me, so i'll crawl and draw even more attention to myself
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 23:59
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Ah, yes ditch

Domestic does differ. The flight was BNE-NTL.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:03
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On the domestic (QLink services) I operate it is quite the norm to have the pax arrive at the aircraft in their own chair, transfer to a QF chair, into the lifting device, then vice versa on arrival.

Not all pax in wheelchairs arrive thus, but it is not uncommon.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:09
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Jetstar forces wheelchair passenger to crawl across tarmac
Is incorrect, they didn't force anything.
"Our airline's policy for a passenger in a wheelchair being transported to and from a Jetstar aircraft, in the case of a self propelled chair, is that they are transferred from their own wheelchair into a specifically designed airline wheelchair at or near the boarding gate.

"This chair's design enables the best transfer of the passenger onto the aircraft and any manoeuvre within the aisle of the aircraft."
Normal chairs do not fit down the aisle.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:29
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Just saw the Jet* media conference on TV.

Very well handled by Jet* PR. Unreserved apologies is all any company can give in such circumstances.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:33
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I heard him being interviewed on the radio this morning and he didn't articulate his case very well. He seemed upset about being required to use a 'generic vanilla' (to paraphrase some expression he used) wheelchair with 'little wheels' to get to the aircraft. He then compared that 'humiliation' to a person having their legs tied together at the ankles, then having their pants pulled down, and then being dragged through the terminal. Bizarre!
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:35
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From Jetstar's Website

Wheelchairs - At the airport
All customers travelling with a wheelchair must check-in 2 hours prior to flights departing from a domestic terminal and 3 hours prior to flights departing from an international terminal.
Jetstar provides customers with a wheelchair in which to transfer at check-in. Jetstar customer service staff will assist in the transfer into the wheelchair, using Jetstar's approved transfer method of slide boards and slide cloths.
If required, a Jetstar customer service staff member will then escort a customer who requires wheelchair assistance from check-in through security to their boarding gate. If the customer is travelling with a carer/companion who is willing to escort the customer, a Jetstar customer service staff member will organise to meet the customer(s) at the boarding gate.
Baggage: The customer's wheelchair must be checked-in as baggage. Wheelchairs or mobility aids are carried free of charge on Jetstar services and are carried in addition to the baggage allowances applicable to the customer's travel itinerary. When a customer has more than one wheelchair or mobility aid(s), the second mobility aid will be charged as excess baggage. This includes wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and electric scooters.
Why can't they use their own wheelchair for 2 hours to get around the airport and to the boarding gate instead of using an aisle chair? Virgin Do.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:38
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Daughter in law works for QF/BNE. She said he refused a wheelchair belonging to QF/JQ after his own went into the hold, due to being far to large for isle, and much to the horror of staff took off on his own to the John. Its called publicity, and as much as I admire the bloke, its a bit rich to blame JQ or any other airline for that matter, if you decide to go around a airport on all fours.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:41
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So it's standard practice to pull down the pants of wheelchair pax in Australia before they board?
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:47
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I agree what the man has achieved is inspirational and that it must be difficult to lose some of your independence by having to be pushed out to the aircraft, but seriously, to make this kind of scene really was uncalled for. And as for comparing it to being carried or pushed around with your pants down... give me a break.

Jetstar forces wheelchair passenger to crawl across tarmac
Nobody "forced" him to do this, it was his own choice...

He said he was unfamiliar with how the supplied wheelchair operated.
Im not familiar with Jetstars wheelchairs, but surely its not rocket science to operate them.

Also, its a wonder how the media didnt find a way to turn this back on Qantas... everything else seens to be their fault!
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 00:49
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Like so many other customer service complaints in this industry, it would be avoided if pax read the back of their ticket or the terms and conditions when they book online.

Maybe after he reviews the terms and conditions the apologies will flow in the other direction...
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 01:00
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There seems to be some confusion about policy here. Jetstar required the pax to check in their Wheelchair at check in, while apparently their policy is pax can take wheelchairs to the boarding gate similar to QF and that includes domestic let you remain in your own chair all the way to the aircraft door then you make your way to the seat via aisle chair or assistance depending on the passengers mobility. I am pretty sure Virgin also do this. Ground staff put the chair in the hold then their own chair is there waiting for them at the aircraft door at destination. I don't think anyone is suggesting a passenger enters the aircraft in their own chair, no one does that besides it wouldn't fit!
Seems the groundstaff on this occasion improperly required him to check in the chair while policy is they can remain with it until boarding.

Last edited by Angle of Attack; 24th Nov 2009 at 01:09. Reason: clarify point
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 01:06
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Another whinger getting his 3 minutes of media fame!

Tough enough to crawl the Kokoda track but unable put up with ten minutes in a wheelchair specifically designed to fit within the confined spaces in an aircraft aisle.

Australia has very enlightened policies for disabled people compared to most parts of the world.

However, here is the real shocking and distressing news for Kurt.

He is not going to be allocated an exit row seat as legislation requires able bodied persons (generally male) be given these seats to assist in opening exits in the event of an emergency. Should a serious emergency occur disabled people will be the last people flight attendants will attempt to assist from a burning aircraft.

Should a disabled person attempt to get out of their seat to go to an exit, their fellow passengers (humans) will use them as stepping stones as they rush to get out.

Does not how much you whinge, legislate or attend the Human Rights Commission that, by the very nature of the human is the way it will and has happened.


Maybe should FA's be trained in Dwarf Tossing they may be better equipped to assist disabled pax!!


DK
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 02:16
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Reminds me of a dwarf pax who asked to be seated at exit row....
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 02:21
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after such a heroic effort to walk the kokada track, he has made a goose of himself and others by going down this path.

he and others alike need to realise that the airlines have these procedures in place for a reason.....

anyhow, i hope it doesn't detract from his amazing feat!!
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 02:30
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Self propelled chairs need to be prepared prior to loading , this would be the reason for taking at the check in. He would be provided someone form the airline to assist him from that point to the A/C if he was travailing alone . Made a big scene for PR
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 03:03
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What a wind up. The wheelchairs are taken at check in because of OH&S requirements that stop the loaders from taking the wheelchair from the gate, down stairs to the tarmac for loading.

This guy admits he was offered a wheelchair to the gate but declined.

My information is that he did not crawl across the tarmac as the aircraft departed from an airbridge.
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