Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vanilla Air makes a wheelchair user to drag himself in to flight; refuses any physical help in absence of ambulift.

Airline apologizes for making wheelchair user climb up boarding ramp on his hands

TOKYO: A Japanese airline said Wednesday it has apologized for making a wheelchair user hoist himself up a staircase from the tarmac to board his flight. 

Hideto Kijima, a vivd traveler and President of Japan Accessible Tourism Center,  faced the problem earlier this month while returning to Osaka from the southern island of Amami with friends. 
Image of Hideto Kijima, President - Japan Accessible Tourism Centre
Mr. Hideto Kijima, President,
Japan Accessible Tourism Centre

Vanilla Air, the budget affiliate of Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways, told him before boarding on June 5 that the small airport requires the use of stairs and has no lift to safely carry a disabled person onto the plane. Vanilla also refused to let his friends carry him in his wheelchair or separately. 

Kijima, 44, who is paralyzed from the waist down, wrote on his blog that he got out of the wheelchair, resisted airline staff who tried to stop him and hoisted himself up the stairs with his arms, a process that took several minutes. 

"I just had to ignore them and keep moving up, or I could not go back to Osaka,'' he wrote. One of his friends helped push him, and at the top he was put into a wheelchair and taken to his seat. "I've never thought I would be refused to fly for not being able to walk,'' he said. "It's a human rights violation.'' 

Vanilla said it has apologized to Kijima and that new lifts are being installed. 

"We apologized to him for the unpleasant experience,'' Vanilla spokesman Akihiro Ishikawa said. "We also explained that we are taking measures to improve our service.'' 

Japanese media reported on his ordeal on Wednesday. 

Kijima, an advocate of barrier-free traveling, who alsoheads the Japan Accessible Tourism Center, a nonprofit in the city of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture - the center that provides foreign tourists with disabilities who need assistance with information about travel in Japan- says he has visited 158 countries and used 200 airports, and has never been rejected before. He says he is not asking for fancy equipment but just some assistance. 

Ishikawa said Amami is the only airport on Vanilla's 14 international and domestic routes without lifts for wheelchair users.


1. Economic Times 
2. Japan Times

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

American Airline label a flyer with disability (a double amputee) as 'intoxicated"; called police

In the instant case, the American Airlines is facing a lawsuit after it called cops to escort a flyer with disability - a double amputee, labeling him "intoxicated' after forgetting his wheelchair.

As the American Airlines plane full of passengers looked on, two law enforcement officers escorted Mr. Michael Mennella — a double amputee with no feet — down the aisle and into the airport. They told him he was under arrest for extreme intoxication. But soon enough, the officers realized Mennella was sober. He'd simply hobbled down the aisle to ask for a drink on a flight that departed Miami without the wheelchair the airline had promised him.

That's what Mennella, a businessman traveling for work, claims in a new lawsuit that's sure to fuel more anger at airlines for horribly mistreating their passengers.

"As demonstrated by police-administered field tests, and as revealed in an official field report, Mr. Mennella was not intoxicated," says the suit, filed in federal court in Miami. "Instead, he was an innocent victim of AA's brutish misconduct."

In an emailed statement, American Airlines declined to comment on the specifics of Mennella's case but said it is committed to providing a positive and safe travel experience to all of its customers and looks forward to addressing his concerns.

Mennella's ordeal began August 28, 2016, when he arrived at Miami International Airport and discovered that American had not reserved a wheelchair he requested. A Florida resident, he was headed to Las Vegas with some colleagues for a conference.

Since losing his feet in a car accident six years ago, Mennella has sought assistance boarding flights. When American Airlines told him no wheelchair was available for the flight to Vegas, he was forced to struggle down the jet bridge, which caused pain to flare up in his legs.

Mennella asked for water to take his medicine, the lawsuit says, but a flight attendant refused. After asking several times, he walked on his stumps to the back of the plane to ask another attendant for help. His request went ignored, and he struggled back to his seat.

American Airlines personnel told passengers seated near Mennella, including his colleagues, that he was "a drunk" and that the plane was being diverted to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The airline had told airport police that Mennella was "intoxicated to the point of needing medical attention," according to a police report included in the lawsuit.

"The law enforcement officers proceeded to tell Mr. Mennella that he was being arrested for a felony due to his intoxication, and that the severity of his crime merited a lengthy incarceration," the lawsuit says.

But once the officers began speaking with Mennella, they concluded he was not under the influence of any kind of substance, police reports indicate. He was released and had to arrange for a different flight to Las Vegas.

Mennella's suit claims American defamed him and damaged his reputation by calling him a drunk and taking him off the plane. It also argues the airline's actions were negligent.

In an email included in the lawsuit, an American Airlines customer service representative told Mennella that the flight had to be diverted due to his "disruptive and unruly behavior" and lewd language and that the pilot made the decision "for the safety of all passengers."

"We believe our pilot made the correct decision in this situation," the email said, "and we apologize if you feel otherwise."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Frontier Airlines Refused a Blind Flyer to Board the Flight with Child in Florida, USA

The Tampa Bay Times reports that a legally blind flyer was refused by Frontier Airlines to board a flight with his 18-month-old grand daughter.

As per the report, Kliphton Miller tried to board a Frontier flight from Tampa to Las Vegas with the child on May 23, 2017. The 44-year-old Miller asked for help getting on the plane once he reached his gate. That's when airline employees began to question his ability to watch over the young child during the trip, according to Miller.

"I frequently fly with my grand daughter on other airlines and had flown on Frontier with her before too, but they still denied me access," Miller told the newspaper. "I was denied because I am blind. They told me I was a liability."

Frontier employees told Miller that he would be a liability in the case of an emergency, he said. They said it was against their corporate policy to let him on board.

"I would have been fine on the plane," Miller told The Tampa Bay Times. "Usually flight attendants will help me to the bathroom if I need to change her, but I can do it myself. I was a single dad for 10 years before I got married, and then I was a stay-at-home dad. I am completely capable." 

Frontier later apologized and rescheduled his trip to Las Vegas free of charge. Richard Oliver, a spokesman with Frontier, called the incident a "customer service failure."

For the complete news please visit CBS News weblink