“I just felt really sorry for Natalie … I just felt really hopeless and I’m like, ‘I just can’t believe this is really happening,’” said her friend.
Natalie Curtis was on a low-cost Australian airline traveling from Townsville to Bangkok when she was allegedly told to pay for the special chair to get off the plane after landing. The disabled Australian woman said she was forced to crawl off a plane because the crew wouldn't allow her to use a wheelchair for free. She told Sunrise there was a bit of a language barrier during the incident. “When we arrived (staff) were asking us to actually pay and I didn’t really comprehend it, and I’m like ‘no I’m not paying to be able to get off this plane’,” she shared. “They all just sat around for a while and the option that was left was for me to get on the floor and crawl.”
Natasha Elford who was traveling with Curtis at the time recorded the situation because she couldn't believe what was happening. She wanted to help but wasn't able to pick up her friend due to a knee injury. “I just felt really sorry for Natalie ... I just felt really hopeless and I’m like, ‘I just can’t believe this is really happening’,” she said. “(Staff) did obviously try to offer to lift her up and carry her, but if they dropped her (Curtis) that would (have been) 10 times worse.”
If I was an employee, regardless of what I thought the company policy was, if I saw a woman crawling off of the plane, I would take some sort of compassionate action. https://t.co/8WRCoQkvut— Jimmy Malone, Proud to be liberal & woke (@malonespeaking) November 1, 2022
A Jetstar rep responded by denying that the airline had requested payment for the use of a chair. “We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable travel experience for all our customers, including those requiring specific assistance,” the rep said. “Regrettably, this was not the case for Ms. Curtis following a miscommunication that resulted in the delay of an aisle chair being made available at the gate on arrival and we are looking into what happened as a matter of urgency,” the spokesperson added. The airline has offered Curtis a refund and additional compensation, but she vowed to never fly with the company again calling the whole situation as “embarrassing”. “It was extremely humiliating so I definitely don’t want anyone else to go through what I had to go through.” Netizens were horrified by the story with one person tweeting: It’s long past time airlines allow wheelchair-using passengers to actually have the comfort & dignity of using their own chairs. Make the space. Another added: This doesn’t seem like a miscommunication. It sounds like the employees are mean. Pretty shocking that she wasn’t immediately provided with a complimentary wheelchair.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | 7NEWS Australia