Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Jetstar Shows Pattern Of Discrimination Against People With Disabilities

Just a couple days after we heard that Jetstar had refused passage to two wheelchair users because they didn’t have “carers”, we learn that Jetstar refused to carry 6 out of 8 wheelchair using paralympians.

The team had booked on parent company Qantas. But after booking they were informed that the flight would be operated by Jetstar. Because of Jetstar policy of flying only 2 wheelchair users per flight, 3/4 of the wheelchair users on the team were refused passage. The team had to fly on separate airlines. Why is it that when the team booked on Qantas, they ended up having to rearrange their plans and disrupt everything?

This isn’t the first time Jetstar refuses to carry more than two wheelchair users. I spoke about other incidents like this in a previous post. Why is it that Qantas can fly more than 2 wheelchair users, but Jetstar cannot?

How can a traveller with a disability trust Qantas when there is a risk of being bumped onto a Jetstar flight, and as a result refused boarding altogether?

Quentin Smith told me in an email that Jetstar had refused him passage because they apparently couldn’t get him off the plane at his destination in Queenstown. His story didn’t make the news. I wonder how many other wheelchair users encountered problems trying to fly with Jetstar who’s stories never made it to the news?

Jetstar CEO had apologised about getting it wrong with Dan Buckingham and Tanya Black. Empty apologies.

One key issue in discrimination cases is to determine whether an incident is an isolated case, or part of a greater pattern. Jetstar has shown a pattern of discrimination against wheelchair users. Their policies are discriminatory. They mess up repeatedly, apologise, and do nothing to resolve the issue.

What is it going to take for Jetstar to clean up their act?

One thought on “Jetstar Shows Pattern Of Discrimination Against People With Disabilities

  1. PB sent me an email in response to this post, and I thought it was important to share it here.

    I believe that the budget airlines made it clear from the start that they did not care overmuch for wheelchairs and disabled people. When I’m on a plane in an emergency situation I don’t wish to have my exit impeded by aisles full of wheelchairs.

    Being “budget” doesn’t absolve a company, any company, from the laws of the land – in this case anti-discrimination. They may not care, but they still should not be allowed to have discriminatory policies and practices.

    As for being on a plane on emergency situations, you’ll be reassured to know that wheelchair users are not usually seated in exit rows. In fact, mothers with infants or kids, elderly passengers, and generally passengers who feel they couldn’t help people out of a plane are not seated in those rows. As for the wheelchair themselves, they are stowed in the cargo hold, not in the cabin.

    But if you are concerned about flying safety, perhaps flying Jetstar and by extension their parent company Qantas, considering the abismal safety record they’ve had in the last few years – forced landings, crashes, aborted flights, you name it…

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