Qantas’ Jetstar Repeatedly Mistreats Disabled Passenger

image courtesy of Clker Free Vector Images from | eTurboNews | eTN
image courtesy of Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

I am a disabled person, and I have terminal muscular dystrophy, therefore, I use a power wheelchair, when I travel.

When I fly, I usually buy my tickets a year in advance and request seats that specifically accommodate my disability.

In March of 2022, I purchased two tickets from Honolulu to Sydney Australia on Qantas’ Jetstar brand, in business class. I requested seats 1A and 1C specifically for access and against the wall because I can’t stay upright for 10 plus hours.  I was assigned 1A and 1C. 

Sometime in January 2023, Qantas’ Jetstar canceled my flight, placed me on a March 25 departure, and never told me.  I found out by accident. They also didn’t put me back in 1A and 1C, they put me in the middle section with a stranger next to me. The configuration is 2/3/2. 

I filed a discrimination complaint with the USDOT because they gave my seats away to able-bodied people. Those handicap-friendly seats are typically enjoyed by employees, families of employees, or friends of employees.  Qantas’ Jetstar told USDOT they re-accommodated me in 1G and 1J, which are bulkhead seats on the aisle.

On March 15, 2023, I discovered just as soon as they denied to the US government, they were discriminating against me, they moved me out of 1G and 1J and put me in a middle section seat again.  Being in the middle section, without a wall/window for support, I have to be tied up in restraints, like a mentally ill patient in an insane asylum. The restraints draw stares and have the effect of being “shown off” like a deformed human in a freak show. 

I believe after they made the claim to the US government about wanting to accommodate my disability, they intentionally moved me again – as retaliation, to harass and intimidate me for filing the US complaint against them.

The USDOT case number PC2023 03 0042 and ESID 441500 is written in a letter from Qantas’ Jetstar, where they assured the US Government, I was going to be seated in 1G and 1J for this long and arduous flight. It is signed by Zoe in the Customer Advocacy Team. 

I will be following up in a forthcoming article, for travel professionals and the disabled community, with photos, to show the humiliation and intimidation disabled customers are forced to endure because the airline wants to give handicap-friendly seats away to favored employees and their friends. It’s behavior similar to parking in a handicap spot when a person isn’t disabled.

Throwing us out of 1G and 1J was vicious behavior on the airline’s part, especially since I purchased the tickets a year ago, and filed the USDOT complain in January.  They had plenty of opportunity to do the right thing but chose not to do so.

iamge courtesy of A.Anderssen | eTurboNews | eTN
image courtesy of A.Anderssen

About the author

Dr. Anton Anderssen - special to eTN

I am a legal anthropologist. My doctorate is in law, and my post-doctorate graduate degree is in cultural anthropology.

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