There are lots and lots and lots of problems with the way people with disabilities are treated while travelling. This is just one of them.
Disabled athlete Kurt Fearnley has used the National Disability Awards in Canberra to take a swipe at budget airline Jetstar, which made him check in his personal wheelchair as luggage.
Mr Fearnley, a multiple wheelchair marathon winner, had just arrived in Brisbane from Papua New Guinea after crawling the Kokoda track.
He says he was humiliated when he was offered an alternative but unsuitable wheelchair, which he declined to use.
“I said there is not a chance that I am going to sit there and be pushed through an airport,” he said. “An able-bodied equivalent, a normal person’s equivalent would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport.”
Mr Fearnley says he chose to crawl around Brisbane airport, including through a toilet, while he waited for his flight.
Update 24 November 2009: Not only do Jetstar force you to surrender mobility gear and immobilise you in a wheelchair that you can’t push; they then break your checked mobility equipment, force you into a wheelchair, then tip you onto the road, resulting in days in hospital.