Published June 03, 2013
Budget airline Jetstar pulled a woman with cerebral palsy from a flight because it believed she could not understand instructions.
Ashley Papworth, 21, was travelling from Brisbane, Australia to Newcastle to visit her family, but was barred from the flight because cabin crew thought she was unable to understand what they were saying.
Ms Papworth uses a wheelchair and hearing aid, but has travelled extensively without discrimination. Her grandfather, Michael Folbigg, said he was horrified by her treatment by the airline.
"There were family members available to help Ashley on to the flight and also to help with her on arrival at Newcastle," Folbigg said. "(The airline) cited difficulties in communication as their reason for their refusal. Ashley is (diagnosed with) cerebral palsy, not an imbecile."
A Jetstar spokesman said Papworth had travelled with family on previous occasions and the airline apologized for the inconvenience she suffered.
"One of our key independent traveller requirements is that a passenger must be able to communicate that they have understood our crew's safety and emergency instructions," the spokesman said. "In this case, based on interactions with the passenger and her parents, our team was not satisfied that Ms Papworth could travel on this flight without an accompanying passenger."