Aviation

More Jetstar drama as airline apologises for refusing to fly home disabled passenger

Jetstar has been left red-faced once again, with a wheelchair-bound passenger claiming the airline refused to let him on a plane because he was too heavy.

According to a 7 News report on Wednesday, 67-year-old Ian Smith was forced to wait in a hotel room next to Melbourne Airport for five days because Jetstar wouldn’t fly him back home, even though the same airline flew him to Melbourne just a few days prior.

Three weeks ago, Smith flew with Jetstar from Ballina to Sydney for a Fijian cruise. He then flew with Jetstar from Sydney to Melbourne, with staff helping to lift Smith into his seat.

However, when he tried to fly home, the airline suddenly refused to take him, and later told Smith that he was to heavy for transfer by Jetstar’s wheelchair.

Smith fought back tears during his interview with 7 News, saying he was “totally guttered” by the incident.

“They treat me like an idiot, and I’m not an idiot. I’m disabled, but I’m still a human being.”

In a statement to Travel Weekly, Jetstar said: “We sincerely apologise to Mr Smith for this situation and appreciate that the inconsistent application of our wheelchair policy has been frustrating.

“While Mr Smith has been manually lifted into his seat on previous flights with Jetstar, our airport teams are not approved to perform manual lifts of passengers requiring wheelchair assistance and this shouldn’t have occurred.

“Manually lifting passengers requiring wheelchair assistance can create a safety risk for our staff and the passenger being carried.

“We have made arrangements with Qantas on this occasion so that Mr Smith and his carer can fly home.

“A review of Mr Smith’s experience is underway and we have reminded our teams of the correct procedures to prevent this happening again.”

Smith was finally flown home by Jetstar’s sister airline, Qantas, on Wednesday.

The incident comes shortly after a Jetstar passenger accused the airline of “slut-shaming” her.

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