Jetstar…… Need I Say More?25 Jan 2012
After reading another disgraceful article, yet again, about Jetstar, I can’t say that it surprises me, perhaps just makes me dislike the airline more and more.
Reports surfaced last week that 78 year old Sheila King, from Brisbane, lost her three year discrimination court battle against Jetstar.
In 2008, Sheila, who uses a wheelchair, attempted to fly from Adelaide, to Brisbane, with Jetstar, when she was denied access because the budget airline has a two wheelchair maximum policy. The particular flight that Sheila wanted to board already had two wheelchair users booked in for the same flight, so she was forced to pay extra, and book with another airline.
Sheila, who uses a wheelchair because of a bout of Polio that she contracted when she was a child, is all for speaking up for the rights of people with disabilities. A disability
advocate herself, she just couldn’t let this ‘policy’ slide.
Sheila issued a complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission back in 2008, and the discrimination case was forwarded on to the Federal Court.
It has now been three years since the incident, and $20,000 of Sheila’s own money towards her fight, and because of a clause in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the judge ruled in favour of Jetstar.
The DDA clause, called ‘unjustifiable hardship’, protects businesses from altering their policies or practices for people with disabilities, if they can prove that they will inevitably lose money by doing so.
Jetstar is a budget airline, and for this reason, their spokespeople say that in order to keep costs to the general public low, they must enforce their policy of only carrying two wheelchair users on a flight, at any one time. Jetstar’s competition, Virgin Airlines also imposes the same policy, and Sheila is currently in the process of fighting them as well.
Jetstar claims that 90% of the time, there are no issues with the two wheelchair maximum policy, because there isn’t much of a need for more than two wheelchair users to occupy a plane at one time. So, shouldn’t this make the cause for this policy to be abolished, even more apparent?
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Glenn Innes thinks so. Glenn says that if there was a two child maximum limit imposed on parents, there would be uproar all around the nation. He wants to know why it should be different for people with disabilities. Glenn is fighting to have this policy made illegal by airlines. And Sheila is currently appealing the decision made by the Federal Court.
This really makes me sick, the fact that a company can prevent me from flying at a discounted rate, if they want to, and it’s legal! That means, if I want to fly from Sydney to Melbourne with two of my disabled
friends who also use wheelchairs, too bad! We’d have to take separate flights… What a joke! I really hope this despicable policy is changed, and fast! I still refuse to fly with Jetstar, and suggest that all wheelchair users boycott the airline until the policy is changed or removed.
If you’d like to read the original article from the Pro Bono News website, please click here: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2012/01/court-decision-jetstar%E2%80%99s-two-wheelchair-policy-major-blow-disability-group
– Although, it appears that the author of the story doesn’t have much to do with people with disabilities, or should I say: quote ‘passenger with disability’.