Spain’s Albastar Airlines has sparked widespread outrage after a video circulating online showed a disabled woman shuffling across the aisle of the plane in a bid to get to the plane’s toilets.
British blogger and disability activist Jennie Berry, from Hartlepool, was subjected to an inexcusable show of humiliation on board Albastar Airlines as she was forced to drag herself to the toilets after not being provided with an ‘aisle chair’. The passenger, who is paralysed from the waist down, documented her upsetting experience and posted it on the social media platform TikTok where the video has racked up almost 900,000 likes and 8.1 million views. It has also been shared across other social media sites.
In the one-minute clip, Berry states, “They wouldn’t let me sit anywhere near the front of the plane even though there were spare seats,” claiming that they also denied her request to use the toilet onboard. The clip consists of footage of a flight attendant pushing an airline trolley as they continued to serve drinks behind Berry without stopping to assist her. After reaching the end of the aisle, the video shows Berry being hoisted onto the toilet by her partner, who was also onboard with her. Shockingly, Berry expresses that “one staff member quite rudely told me that disabled people should just wear nappies onboard” before going on to say that every other flight she’s been on has had an aisle chair. Albastar’s appalling treatment of Berry is further highlighted as she wrote in her Instagram caption (@wheelie_good_life) that “[Newcastle International Airport] assistance staff were shocked that they had to go through the ordeal of getting me to the middle of the plane.”
Calls for change
After an outpouring of indignation across her social media accounts, Berry has also received comments of support from English actress Rose Ayling–Ellis as well as Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly. Albastar Airlines has since apologised on its Instagram, where they wrote, “Albastar would like to express our sincere apologies for the event that recently took place on one of our flights in relation to the service provided to a passenger with mobility problems… We are working to investigate the incident to ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again on any of our aircraft.”
It is unknown whether the airline has personally reached out to Berry since the incident; however, her ordeal is sure to open up a debate on the treatment of disabled people on flights.
What more can be done to ensure the rights of disabled people are protected onboard flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!