A bad look for a Spanish charter airline after flight attendants not only indifferently refused to help a disabled passenger to the lavatory but openly mocked her.
Disabled Passenger Told To Wear A Diaper, Refused Help To Lavatory By Flight Attendants, Forcing Her To Drag Herself To Toilet
Jennie Berry is paralyzed from the waist down and was traveling on Spanish charter airline AlbaStar. Before the flight, Berry was driven to the aircraft and then wheeled onboard using a special wheelchair designed to fit down aircraft aisles.
Many airlines stock a wheelchair onboard precisely for this scenario. United Airlines, for example, notes that specially-designed wheelchairs are available onboard all jets with 60 seats or more to provide help reaching the lavatory.
It is not clear whether AlbaStar failed to stock one onboard or whether flight attendants were simply indifferent, but Berry, an accessibility rights activist, shared on TikTok that she was forced to drag herself down the aisle to use the lavatory.
Here’s how I had to get to the toilet on my recent Albastar Airlines flight. They told me I should wear a nappy and wee in my seat instead of having an aisle chair onboard…
But that’s not all:
- There were seats available close to the lavatory at the front of the plane, but she was refused them and told she must remain at her assigned seat in the center of the aircraft
- The crew mocked her when she said she had to use the restroom, scolding her for not wearing a diaper
- While Berry dragged herself to the lavatory, the crew indifferently continued onboard food, beverage, and duty-free sales
Let’s be clear – based on this video, she was traveling with her partner and potentially the person who took the video. In that sense, dragging herself on the floor could be construed as being done for maximum dramatic effect rather than out of pure necessity. We also do not have any recording of the flight attendants openly ridiculing Berry.
That said, there seems to be no excuse under European Law and basic human decency for the way she was treated. Carriers must make “all reasonable efforts” to provide seating for disabled passengers. That may not mean first class upgrades or even upgrades to extra legroom seats, but I would think under the circumstances seating Berry upfront would have been reasonable…it’s not like she was making up her disability.
AlbaStar has apologized for the incident, though denied that flight attendants requested that Berry wear a diaper.
The whole point of legal protection for disabled people is precisely situations like this. Berry was robbed of her dignity by making a spectacle of herself after AlbaStar failed to load a wheelchair onboard her flight. Since most personal wheelchairs do not fit down an airplane aisle, every airline should stock a special chair for those rare occasions when someone in need may require one. When we treat others the way we want to be treated, society is better able to flourish.