A disabled woman claims she was humiliated by a Jet2 pilot, who blamed her wheelchair for a flight delay and also by flight attendants, who warned her that they would not help in case of an emergency.
Jet2 Pilot Blames Wheelchair For Delay, Then Crew Further Humiliate Disabled Passenger
The incident occurred in July 2022 on a Jet2 flight from Bristol (BRS) to Tenerife (TFN) on the Canary Islands.
Freeman has no legs. She alerted Jet2 in advance that she required additional assistance. Upon arriving at Bristol Airport, ground staff told her that her wheelchair would have to be partially dismantled to fit on the aircraft.
Dismantling it took time and loading it carefully took the time. That apparently annoyed the captain, who announced over the PA system several times that the flight was delayed due to a wheelchair.
Shockingly, Geraldine Freeman alleges that a crew member also warned her, “In the event of an emergency, they wouldn’t be coming back for me.”
Freeman found the incident “embarrassing, uncomfortable, stressful and humiliating” and lamented to the BBC how she was treated in a “very undignified way.”
“I just didn’t want to hear it, it’s as if my life isn’t as valuable as anybody else.”
She has every right to be upset. Jet2 apologized and said it is working to better train staff. It added that “our special assistance team should have more accurately noted the dimensions of the wheelchair when they spoke to Ms Freeman initially. This would also have prevented any such delay. We are ensuring that additional training takes place to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Sir Robert Buckland, Freeman’s Member of Parliament, has taken up her cause and is pushing the Ministry of Transport to offer better safeguards for disabled passenger access, including guaranteed pre-boarding for those with disabilities in part to preserve their dignity as they settle into their seats, sometime with great struggle.
I understand the difficulty of accommodating passenger with disabilities…we’ve discussed this issue before. However, I think in a society in which we espouse equal dignity for every person, regardless of their physical independence, we must find ways to accommodate passengers like Freeman. I understand that helping her in an emergency may prove very hard, but it is not enough to warn her she is on her own. That’s not the function of a flight attendant nor is that an acceptable compromise in a civilized society.