by Catherine Delahunty
When Jetstar refused two people the right to fly because they use wheelchairs and didn’t have two caregivers, it raised the endless and ongoing issue of discrimination against people with disabilities.
The debate is not new. It has taken years for disability activists to work with the airlines to ensure access onto all kinds of planes. Clearly Jetstar haven’t developed a coherent policy about respecting people using wheelchairs, or this would not have happened.
The two television presenters were from Attitude, a programme about disability issues, and were rightly appalled at their treatment.
Jetstar say they are too short staffed to help people using wheelchairs. I wonder if they have ever engaged with customers who use wheelchairs about their needs? They have made some big assumptions that everyone needs a carer or companion and cannot ensure they get what they need by way of assistance if they travel as an independent person.
You do have wonder about the attitudes behind this debacle and the institutionalisation of those attitudes into collective discrimination. I doubt whether Jetstar have read the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the NZ Disability Strategy, but someone in their office might like to check these policies out. Otherwise they won’t just get bad press, they will get a consumer boycott.