Jetstar under fire after a man in a wheelchair says he was made to feel like ‘a second-class citizen’ when he had to be carried onto the plane by his wife and two helpers
- Queenslander went to the NT for 50th birthday, wheelchair not allowed on plane
- Brad Wszola, 50, carried aboard by his wife and two others as pilots watched
- The wheelchair not permitted on board because Darwin airport had no ramp
- Jenny Wszola sent 29 emails asking why, was told Jetstar is low-cost airline
A paraplegic Australian man was reduced to feeling ‘subhuman’ when he had to be lifted by three people into a Jetstar plane before a flight.
Brad Wszola was trying to board a flight from Darwin to Cairns after spending his 50th birthday in the Northern Territory when he was told he couldn’t use his wheelchair to board because there was no ramp.
Mr Wszola’s wife Jenny told Daily Mail Australia the ‘demoralizing’ experience left him feeling ‘like a second class citizen’.
A paraplegic Australian man was reduced to feeling ‘subhuman’ when he had to be lifted by three people into a Jetstar plane before a flight. Pictured, Brad Wszola tries to transfer himself from Darwin Airport’s chair into his own wheelchair at baggage claim
Ms Wszola sought an explanation in writing and after 29 emails to Darwin Airport and Jetstar she was told there was no ramp because it was a low-cost airline
‘He was actually seated in an aisle chair and three of us lifted him into the plane. It was unsafe for him, unsafe for staff, unsafe for me.
Ms Wszola sought an explanation in writing and after 29 emails to Darwin Airport and Jetstar, she was told there was no ramp because it was a low-cost airline.
‘Jetstar’s operational requirements as a low fares airline, together with our safety and other obligations as an airline, mean that Jetstar is only able to provide limited specific assistance to passengers, including to passengers requiring wheelchair assistance,’ the airline wrote in an email.
Brad Wszola was trying to board a flight from Darwin to Cairns after spending his 50th birthday in the Northern Territory when he was told he couldn’t use his wheelchair to board because there was no ramp
Ms Wszola pinned all the emails she sent to the wall to show how hard she had to work get a response from Darwin Airport or Jetstar
Ms Wszola said the experience left her husband feeling ‘inadequate, subhuman and not worthy’, the NT News reported.
‘The pilots were standing there watching this happen. That’s just not cool.
‘This productive, vital man is being treated like a second-class citizen.’
When the couple arrived in Darwin they had to wait at the baggage carousel for the wheelchair instead of having it brought to the plane, which is considered normal practice.
A ‘furious’ Ms Wszola said inclusion ‘doesn’t have to be hard’.
Mr Wszola has been unable to walk since 2016 after a steroid injection for pain relief left him paralysed.
Darwin Airport is understood to have since installed a ramp so wheelchairs can negotiate the gap between the air-bridge and the aircraft.
Wheelchair users have consistently raised complaints about their treatment in Australian airports, with poor facilities, staff rudeness and erratic communication over wheelchairs the main complaints.
Qantas traveller Emma Weatherley felt ‘humiliated’ by the airline’s staff and asked why she couldn’t walk up stairs.
The actual gap between the Darwin Airport air-bridge and the plan that led to Jetstar staff taking Mr Wszola from his chair and lifting him into the plane
She said staff were ‘rude’ and ‘demeaning’ to her as she tried to get home to Brisbane last June.
Ms Weatherley said American airports are easier for people with wheelchairs.
‘Travelling in America is so much easier, their [Americans with Disabilities Act] is fantastic. As soon as you get back to Australia, the discrimination starts again.’
Jetstar apologised to Mrs and Ms Wszola and said it ‘reached out’ to the couple to ‘better understand their experiences’.
‘We regularly review the support provided to customers requiring specific assistance, including those who use wheelchairs,’ the airline said in a statement.
‘Jetstar has also arranged for a ramp to be delivered to Darwin Airport for use by ground handlers to provide a better boarding experience.’