An Asian airline reportedly refused to let a disabled passenger board a flight because she was traveling alone.
Shen Chengqing had arrived at Hong Kong International Airport for her Hong Kong Airlines flight to Tianjin in northeastern China last Friday evening when she was turned away for using a wheelchair, she claims.
“I felt very anxious and angry at the time. I don’t understand why this could happen in Hong Kong,” Chengqing said to the South China Morning Post.
The 22-year-old, who has flown about once a month for the past six months, said she was told by flight staff that she would not be allowed on the 3-hour flight because she was unable to walk and did not have a travel companion flying with her.
“Because of this reason, we refused to let her board the plane alone,” the female employee allegedly told Chengqing’s friend, who accompanied her to the airport.
According to Chengqing, she alerted the airline earlier that she needed a wheelchair and was not told she would need a personal care attendant to travel with her – a policy she feels the airline should make clearer to passengers with disabilities.
“If there are safety concerns, there should be better facilities to ensure my safety, instead of not allowing me on a plane,” she said.
On the airline’s website, it says passengers with wheelchairs will be provided with aisle chairs to assist them to and from their assigned seats. However, it also “recommends” passengers with disabilities “travel with a personal care attendant” as flight staff does not assist with personal care like using the restroom, eating or taking medication.
Chengqing, who traveled without issue to Hong Kong on an Air China flight, told the Post she does not require assistance to use the restroom or eat -- so she did not understand why she was turned away.
“They rejected me for this reason verbally,” she said. “But their written rejection says ‘disability: unable to walk long distances’, which is ridiculous.
“I do not need help with eating or using the bathroom. All I need is assistance to move my wheelchair,” she told the Post.
A spokesperson for the airline reportedly told the Post that flight staff conducted an evaluation of Chengqing and determined she was unfit to fly without a companion.
Chengqing said she had to spend over 2,000 yuan ($296) on another one-way ticket the next day and was forced to bring a friend with her for the flight.
“Besides the money and delay to my work and other schedules, I also caused trouble for my friends, and worried my family,” she said.
“I thought taking flights from Hong Kong would be reliable. I did not expect this,” she added.
Hong Kong Airlines did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.