Hartlepool disability campaigner forced to drag herself to plane toilet makes plea for change
A disabled woman whose video of her dragging herself through a plane to access the toilet went viral has launched a petition calling for better facilities for wheelchair users on flights.
Hartlepool woman Jennie Berry, who is paralysed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair, posted a video on social media of her experience on board an Albastar flight from Newcastle Airport to Palma.
Ms Berry, who is a blogger and disability-activist and posts under the account @wheelie_good_life, said she had been told by one member of staff that disabled people should wear nappies on board.
Her video has now been viewed more than 2.5million times.
In it, she said she usually gets on a flight using an aisle chair, which is a narrow wheelchair that assists disabled people to their seat when boarding and when they need to use the toilet.
However, there was not one available on this flight.
In the video, she said: “Unfortunately on my flight they didn’t have an aisle chair on board.
"So the flight with Albastar didn’t get off to a good start. They wouldn’t let me sit near the front of the plane, even though there were spare seats.
“When I asked if I could go to the toilet they said no , that they wouldn't help and they proceeded to keep serving the drinks.”
She added: “A staff member quite rudely told me that disabled people should just wear nappies on board.
“They said there wasn’t enough room for an aisle chair, even though there was space for a drinks trolley, perfume trolley and cigarette trolley.”
In a post online, she said: "Life as a disabled person can sometimes be downright degrading and embarrassing and unfortunately, this was one of them times.
"To be outright told to my face that I should wear a nappy when I don't need to made me feel humiliated."
She has now started a petition calling for aisle chairs to be made mandatory on flights, which has been signed by about 10,000 people.
She said: “At present, there is no regulation for aisle chairs to be mandatory on flights, with some airlines suggesting that disabled people should be carried or dragged to the toilet. This is painful, humiliating, dehumanising and sometimes simply not possible.
“I have shared my story with thousands online, in a bid to hopefully change this.”
A spokesperson for Albastar said: “Albastar would like to express its sincere apologies for the event that recently took place on one of our flights in relation to the flight experience of a passenger with reduced mobility.
“Our main concern is the safety and comfort of all our passengers on each and every flight we operate.
“We are working to investigate the incident to ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again on any of our aircrafts.”
The company added it was not told there would be a disabled passenger on board.
A spokesperson for TUI said: "We are really concerned to hear about Ms Berry’s experience on her flight to Palma as we take matters like this very seriously.
"While Ms Berry booked through TUI, the flight was operated by a third party airline. We are therefore investigating this incident as a matter of urgency with them.
"We are already in direct contact with Ms Berry and will continue to provide her any additional support she needs."
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