Mom Considers Action Over Airline's Wheelchair Restriction
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 10, 2006
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Donna Pemberton's 5-year-old daughter Kate was scheduled to fly from Townsville to Brisbane recently to attend camp. The ticket on Qantas air was already paid for and everything was set for the trip.
When Pemberton told the airline that her daughter has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, however, she thought it was odd that they asked for the dimensions of the chair.
"I thought it was strange because I had never been asked to do that before," she told the Townsville bulletin.
Airline officials then told her she would not be able to bring the wheelchair because it would not fit on the Boeing 737.
"It's one of the smallest wheelchairs you'll ever see," Pemberton explained. "If she can't get on the plane, what do adults do?"
Pemberton switched the flight to Virgin Blue, who, she said, was all too willing to accommodate Kate's wheelchair on board their 737 aircraft.
Monday's Courier-Mail reported that Pemberton said she is deciding whether to take her complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for possible legal action against Qantas.
A Qantas spokesperson was quoted as saying the new policy has been well publicized since it was revised last December.
As Inclusion Daily Express has reported, Qantas has been under fire by disability advocates in recent years for, among other things, requiring wheelchair users to be accompanied by a caregiver, requiring a boy with a brain tumor to be sedated, and losing a wheelchair belong to Member of Parliament Graham Edwards -- twice in a 12-month period.
"Help! Qantas can't" (Townsville Bulletin)
"Wheelchair dispute" (Courier Mail)