Disabled woman 'embarrassed and degraded' by airline staff

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A woman who's paralysed from the waist down said she was made to feel "embarrassed and degraded" when she was forced to shuffle down the aisle of a plane when airline staff refused to help her to the toilet.

Jennie Berry, an advocate for disability rights, detailed her "humiliating" ordeal online after flying Alba Star — a small Spanish airline — out of Newcastle Airport in England recently.

Ms Berry explained that planes usually have an aisle chair which she uses to get up and down the aircraft with ease.

But she was told on this particular flight that there wasn't one available, and she was also refused a seat close to the front, she claims.

Disabled woman on plane Albastar airlines
Jennie Berry, an advocate for disability rights, said she normally uses an aisle chair (left) on airlines but there wasn't one available on her flight. Source: Instagram/wheelie_good_life

So when she needed to use the bathroom, she had no choice but to slide her body along the floor until she reached the cubicle after staff allegedly refused to help her.

"They just said, 'No we don’t have an aisle chair on board', with no suggestions of what I was to do," Ms Berry recalled on Instagram.

"As you all know – when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go – so thankfully as I have good upper body strength I proceeded to drag myself down the aisle towards the toilet, while staff continued to serve drinks."

Woman told 'disabled people should wear nappies'

A video shared on her social pages show Ms Berry's struggle to first make it to the bathroom then climb up onto the toilet with help from her partner.

To make matters worse, the London-based advocate said "staff told me that ‘disabled people should wear nappies on board’. Apparently, that’s their solution – to ask disabled passengers to pee in their seats."

Ms Berry said staff were "huffing and puffing" as she made her way down the plane as she "held up their all important drinks cart".

"Life as a disabled person can sometimes be downright degrading and embarrassing and unfortunately, this was one of [those] times," she wrote in her post.

"To be outright told to my face that I should wear a nappy when I don’t need to and that they are happy with that policy, made me feel humiliated."

People 'disgusted' by 'disgraceful' behaviour

People were shocked and "disgusted" by the airline's "disgraceful" behaviour. Ms Berry added, "There is A LOT that still needs to be done when it comes to accessibility within the travel industry."

"Absolutely disgraceful! I’m so sorry you had to deal with this!! Thank you for sharing and highlighting the s*** disabled people have to endure even in 2022," one said.

"This is unreal to watch - this is completely unacceptable," fumed another.

"This makes me sick to watch," a third wrote.

"Actually cannot believe you were put through this! I hope other passengers have complained about how staff treated this whole situation, I would definitely be having a go at the staff!"

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Alba Star for comment.

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