Tiger Airways Not Alone


The whole Tiger Airways denied boarding issue brought a bevy of comments to a mainstream travel board I frequent. Basically the posters were aghast that anything like this could possibly happen, especially in ?this day and age?. Of course I had to chime in and inform them that Tiger Airways was not alone. Although US airlines are prohibited from such behavior, that?s not the case around the world. Here are a few examples from my ?germ? file.

  • South African Airways prohibits wheelchair-users from traveling alone if they can?t transfer independently.
  • Regional Express (an Australian carrier) requires that wheelchair-users be accompanied by an attendant.
  • An Air France gate agent denied boarding to a wheelchair-user with no limbs, stating that ?a head, one bottom and a torso cannot possibly fly on its own.? She was subsequently allowed to board a later flight, but only after she found a companion to travel with her.
  • AirAsia will not allow disabled passengers to travel unaccompanied. They also charge for airport wheelchair assistance.
  • KLM refuses to board non-ambulatory passengers who are not accompanied by an able bodied escort. The official KLM policy on non-ambulatory passengers is as follows. “The passenger must be accompanied by an escort. They must fly on a wide body aircraft, on a flight with a duration of over three hours; and medical approval must be given (in advance) by KLM?s Medical Department in Amsterdam.”
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle refuses to transport passengers in power wheelchairs because they can?t store those wheelchairs in their luggage compartments.
  • Thai Airways flight attendants asked a paraplegic man to disembark claiming he was a safety risk because he couldn?t get to the toilet. They eventually relented and let him stay aboard when he showed them a ticket stub from his previous flight, showing that he is capable of traveling unaccompanied.
  • Brittania Airways refused boarding to two wheelchair-users because they allegedly could not get to the bathroom, even though both of them can walk and demonstrated this to the gate agent.
  • Nationwide Airlines (a domestic South African carrier) charges passengers (in some cases as much as $260) for airport wheelchair assistance.
  • Alitalia requires wheelchair-users to be accompanied by attendants on all flights over three hours long.
  • A wheelchair-user was denied boarding on a United codeshare flight, operated by Lufthansa Airlines, on the basis that he was a safety risk because the gate agent claimed he could not assist in his own evacuation in case of an emergency. He had already traveled cross-country unaccompanied.
  • A Scot Airways gate agent refused to board a wheelchair-user and told him that that he couldn’t board the plane if he wasn’t able to walk. Merlin Suckling, Scot Airways? director and owner claims that “It?s a well-publicized policy that Scot Airways does not allow wheelchair-bound people to fly on its planes.”
  • Air New Zealand prohibits employees from helping wheelchair-users transfer to airplane seats. Air New Zealand employees can only help a passenger move their legs, hold the aisle chair while a passenger self-transfers and push the aisle chair to the seat. Passengers who are unable to self-transfer are required to provide their own support person to help with the transfer.