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Jetstar takes heat on paralympian’s wheelchair

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 25, 2009

Jetstar has apologised to paralympian Kurt Fearnley after airline staff forced him to hand over his wheelchair at check-in.

Fearnley, who was taking a Jetstar service from Brisbane to Newcastle following the completion of a crawl along the Kokoda Track, was told that the airline’s policy was to take some wheelchairs and instead was offered an airline wheelchair, which Fearley said was not adequate. Instead, he chose to crawl around the Brisbane Airport terminal, causing major embarrassment. “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,” he said.

Jetstar responded to the claims, apologising “for any embarrassment and hurt that may have been caused as it was not intended.” The airline, which said it had not received a formal complaint over the matter, noted that a senior manager spoke directly to Fearnley on November 24 and the matter will be addressed privately.

Jetstar also clarified that its policy on wheelchairs was to allow passengers to use self-propelled chairs until boarding when they are transferred to a specially designed airline wheelchair.

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