Four deaf Australians have filed a formal complaint against Tiger Airways Australia with the country’s anti-discrimination agency, saying the airline told them they could not fly unless accompanied by a fare-paying “care provider” who could hear, the Associated Press is reporting, quoting a story in Australia’s Herald Sun on Friday.
Apparently the four were eventually allowed to fly on March 4, but a flight attendant wrote them a note saying next time they’d have to travel with a care provider, “for safety reasons,” the AP reports.
Tiger Airways Australia’s Communications Director, Matt Hobbs, confirms the encounter but says the airline doesn’t really have a policy barring deaf people from traveling. “We’re clarifying with all staff that deaf people do not require a carer to travel with them,” he tells the Herald Sun. “We are apologetic and very sorry that the people involved in this feel in any way that they’ve been discriminated against or upset by this in any way.”
The four travelers are not the only ones upset: Australia’s disabled rights czar, Bill Shorten, personally called the airline to complain. If he were alive, Ludwig van Beethoven apparently would not be able to fly Tiger Airways Australia today, he says incredulously, in effort to show just how outrageous it is to have an alleged policy for deaf passengers.