Jetstar under fire for refusing Paralympian's wheelchair: 'Stop being so rude'

·News Reporter
·2-min read

Paralympian Karni Liddel was left speechless after Jetstar refused to let her on a flight with her wheelchair on board.

Liddel, who won bronze at the 1996 and 2000 Games, was trying to get from Brisbane to Proserpine on Wednesday to speak at a domestic violence workshop .

“I was told on the phone beforehand that I could fly, but I couldn’t bring my wheelchair,” Ms Liddel told Channel Seven’s Sunrise.

Karmi Liddel (left) and Ms Liddel with a girl also in a wheelchair (right)
Karmi Liddel said it wasn't the first time she was refused boarding on a plane. Source: Facebook

“I said, ‘that would be like me telling you to take your legs off, to jump on the plane and fly without your legs’ and she said ‘stop being so rude’.”

Despite holding a dangerous goods certificate issued by Qantas and Jetstar, the champion swimmer was told she needed to give the airline five days notice before flying to approve her lithium battery wheelchair.

Ms Liddel's dangerous goods certificate (left) and Ms Liddel (right)
Ms Liddel said she had a dangerous goods certificate already issued by Qantas and Jetstar. Source: Facebook

Sadly, it wasn’t the first time that this has happened to Ms Liddel who says she arrives at airports with severe anxiety.

“I’ve been kicked off, denied and rejected [from] about 10 flights over the past few years,” she told Sunrise.

“I don’t even feel safe until I am in the air.”

“It is so common for us, we [people with wheelchairs] are always fighting to fly.”

Jetstar explains wheelchair policy

Jetstar has since spoken to Ms Liddel to personally apologise and understand what happened.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, the airline said that unfortunately her booking was made through a travel vendor and did not include the requirement to travel with a 25kg lithium battery powered wheelchair.

“Carrying a 25 kilogram lithium battery on our aircraft requires special clearance in advance of the flight’s department,” the statement read.

“We have arranged a full refund and as a gesture of goodwill have issued an additional travel voucher.”

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