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Disabled Jetstar Passenger Says Staff Tried to Make Her Pay To Use an Aisle Chair, So She Dragged Herself Off Plane

Disabled Jetstar Passenger Says Staff Tried to Make Her Pay To Use an Aisle Chair, So She Dragged Herself Off Plane

A disabled Jetstar passenger who uses a wheelchair in her everyday life says airline staff tried to make her pay to use a specially adapted aisle chair to get her off the aircraft. Natalie Curtis refused to pay and instead was forced to drag herself down the aisle of the Jetstar aircraft to get off the plane.

The incident happened after Natalie had flown from her home in Townsville, Queensland to Bangkok via Brisbane and Singapore. On the first two flights, there were no issues, and Natalie received special assistance from the airline as she has come to expect.

But on her arrival in Bangkok, the aisle wheelchair (which is designed to fit down the narrow aisle of a Jetstar aircraft) wasn’t forthcoming. Instead, Natalie claimed airline staff told her that they would only provide the aisle chair if she paid to use it.

Natalie was born with Spina Bifida – a birth defect in which a baby’s backbone does not form properly at birth. As a result, Natalie uses a wheelchair to get around and not walk down an aircraft aisle like most passengers.

Rather than pay the fee to use the aisle chair, Natalie decided to drag herself around four metres to the front of the aircraft where her own wheelchair was waiting. Natalie described the experience as “humiliating”.

Jetstar has apologized “unreservedly” to Natalie and has offered her a refund and additional compensation, but the airline denies that staff asked her to pay to use the aisle chair.

In a statement provided to Australia’s Seven News, a spokesperson for the airline said “a miscommunication resulted in the delay of an aisle chair being made available at the gate on arrival.”

“At no point was an aisle chair withheld due to a request for payment,” the statement continued.

Last month, British wheelchair user Jennie Berry says she was forced to drag herself along an aircraft aisle after cabin crew allegedly refused to help her get to the onboard lavatory.

The Spanish charter airline Albastar which was operating the flight did not have an onboard wheelchair available, and Berry claims one airline staffer told her to wear a nappy to avoid needing to use the lavatory during the flight.

The airline denies that allegation and pointed out that airlines are not legally required to have an onboard wheelchair. European law does, however, stipulate that airlines should provide assistance to disabled passengers to allow them to use the lavatory inflight.

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