Jetstar, AGAIN – this time they refused passage to woman with guide dog

[Jetstar is a discount airline in Australia.]

Further to incidents where Jetstar expected Kurt Fearnley to cool his heels, completely dependent, in a non-self-propellable aisle chair for 90 minutes between checkin and boarding (“Let us drive the wheelchair! It’s safer!), and another incident where Trevor Carroll, being pushed in a chair by airline staff (after they broke his walking frame), was tipped on his head into a gutter (“No really, safer!”): Jetstar have gone the extra mile this week – refusing passage to a guide dog, then shouting at the customer.

The Age reports:

Blind pair says Jetstar refused guide dog

Two weeks ago, Glen Bracegirdle, who is significantly visually impaired but manages without a guide dog, called Jetstar’s call centre to book flights for himself and his partner, Kathryn Beaton. Ms Beaton requires the assistance of Prince, a four-year-old black labrador guide dog.

He said he explained that they would need to fly with the guide dog, at which point the clerk told him: ”No dogs, no dogs, no dogs.”

When he attempted to explain that the dog was trained by Guide Dogs Victoria, the clerk refused to budge*.

He said he was later cut off by a manager who became ”quite loud and angry”.

[*Jetstar’s written policies specifically note that dogs trained by Guide Dogs Victoria, among other trainers, are eligible to fly.]

Jetstar claimed this was a “breakdown in communication”, and once again claimed that they carry hundreds of passengers with disabilities each week without incident.

The couple have sent a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

By 3 December, 2009.    accessibility   



4 Comments

  1. The airline’s management is in deep, deep, deep denial. Check this out, via the Sydney Morning Herald:

    The complaint comes a week after Jetstar launched an investigation into its wheelchair procedures after paralympian Kurt Fearnley blasted the airline for forcing him to check in his personal wheelchair before boarding a plane.

    “There is no link whatsoever. There are no systematic issues here,” Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway told AAP on Thursday.

    “This is simply a case of the wrong information being provided by, unfortunately, more than one individual.” […]

    Jetstar has since apologised and offered the couple free flights as compensation, pinning the problem on several staff members who gave out the wrong information about the company’s guide dog policies.

    “We see the matter as closed. We do regret it,” Mr Westaway said.

    And then the dehumanisation at the end of the article:

    Mr Westaway said the airline had to study all the airports it used before deciding on how to consistently provide access for wheelchairs.

  2. That is exactly the same excuse we got when we Air Canada broke Don’s wheelchair. Despite having followed all the rules we were told, booking the flight well in advance with all the particulars of his wheelchair, the fact that none of this information was actually passed on to anyone else in the system was always the fault of some individual, and not an obvious systemic problem with Air Canada.

  3. Isn’t that a bit like saying “No! We don’t systematically reinforce racism! We just happen to have racist employees who feel free to act like bigots (because they get token slaps on the wrist for their misbehavior)!” … ?

  4. “We see the matter as closed. We do regret it,” Mr Westaway said.

    Read: “We have arranged a scapegoat, so we’re done here. Golf, anyone?”

    This is so bogus. If it had just been the clerk, okay, bad employees can happen to good companies. But the MANAGER. Why is he a manager if he doesn’t know corporate policy? In light of their failure to say, “Wow, the manager screwed up, and we made a mistake putting that person in authority, and we take responsibility for it” I am forced to suspect that the manager is performing exactly as the company wishes.