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Wheelchair user crawls up plane stairs in dispute with Vanilla Air

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WTF? Vanilla should be more than embarrassed, and the people who work there as well! Damn.

18 ( +23 / -5 )

I don't think an apology really cut it. Appalling behaviour.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

if you can't adequately accommodate paying customers with disabilities, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to operate an airline.

22 ( +26 / -4 )

Watching the news last night, and seeing how the airline forced him to hoist/crawl his way up to the top of those stairs was so humiliating! When interviewed he wasn't livid or demanding money, he is a far better man than anybody at Vanilla Air!

31 ( +32 / -1 )

Shocking, the response also was weak

13 ( +15 / -2 )

One of the problems with service in Japan is that anything that requires just a little deviation from the norm isn't allowed. (This sometimes goes for other countries, too.)

If the airport doesn't have wheelchair lifts or ramps but the disabled person has people able and willing to lift him up the stairs it's just common sense to allow it.

The point is to somehow get him on the plane with little fuss and with dignity.

22 ( +23 / -1 )

This is more about a few employees being arse' s than the entire company.

The company's response wasn't too thought out, at least in English translation that is.

The following wasn't too diplomatic either, yet without knowing the exact words used in Japanese this comes across so totally crass and asinine.

When he and his friends checked in at Kansai airport on June 3, a Vanilla employee told him that "people who cannot walk cannot fly" to Amami due to the accessibility problem at the airport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unforgivable, shocking behavior by airline staff.

How a human being could stand there watching this humiliating act and do nothing is, thankfully, beyond my imagination.

I think it hints at something dark in the hearts of many Japanese when it comes to the disabled

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

"people who cannot walk cannot fly"

This country is hosting the Olympics!?!?!

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Vanilla is a no frills airline that charges super cheap fares. Expect to put up with hassles, and yes, even embarrassment.

I have no disabilities, yet I steel myself psychologically before boarding an LCC for impending hassles and discomfort. That's the deal. If you want or need assistance or special treatment, then fly on a regular airline....and pay the higher fare.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

@Yubaru

Thanks, Yubaru, that was my thought entirely. A click bait article using a hard mistranslation of what was actually said to reinforce negative stereotypes about Japan.

See how it is being translated by the Associated Press as "Japanese airline forces disabled man to crawl aboard".

I would not want to be making an emergency exit from an airplane that was on fire, with someone crawling up the aisle in front of me to score politically correct points and make an issue.

Nor be trapped behind two friends or employees attempting to carry an ex-rugby player out.

The employed explained why, the were accessibility problems at Amami airport. There was no disabled lift. Therefore he should take the issue up with Amami airport and have it fixed it before endangering others. The employees could not carry him up because if there was an accident, they'd get blamed and sued. It was contrary to H&S policy.

It was a rational safety issue, not a discrimination issue.

I'd suspect something like, being a cheap airline, they get a poor gateway/stairs or something. Chose a different airline or go to a different resort. They're all the same anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I read a bit more, "'I've never thought I would be refused to fly for not being able to walk,' he said. 'It's a human rights violation."

Since when was being able to fly a "human right"?

-16 ( +7 / -23 )

Generalisations are never accurate, but I would say that the attitude of these Vanilla staff members is very unJapanese. I've always found Japanese staff to be extremely helpful and to have a sense of service lacking in many Western countries. So, if this attitude is atypical, where does it come from?

4 ( +10 / -6 )

For all the focus on politeness, disabled people are really looked down on in Japan.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

The apology was offered to Kijima after he informed the transport ministry about the incident

In house, they can ignore it. Once made public, they leap to bow in apology.

I also appreciate that Vanilla was quick to point out the as*hat who forced him to crawl up the stairs was "on an outsourcing contract." I.e. Not our responsibility, eh?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

a Vanilla employee told him that "people who cannot walk cannot fly" to Amami due to the accessibility problem at the airport.

The worker allegedly told Kijima he could board the plane if he "can climb up the stairs on his own with the assistance" of people travelling with him.

After hearing that, Kijima got out of his wheelchair and started to crawl up the 17 steps. The worker tried to stop him but Kijima managed to crawl to the top.

So is this the Japanese Omotenashi that people can expect during the olympics?

One of the problems with service in Japan is that anything that requires just a little deviation from the norm isn't allowed. (This sometimes goes for other countries, too.)

Very very true. The idea of good service here is to hire people to bow to you everywhere you go, or say irrashaimasse. And if something goes wrong to suck their teeth loudly, assume their best crestfallen look, and "moshiwakegozaimasen". Standard operating procedure.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I saw the report on NHK news last night. My impression of watching that was that the airport was at fault for not having the required facilities for wheelchair passengers. Remember that it is perfectly possible for any tourist visiting Amami to have an accident and come home in a wheelchair.

This problem was then compounded by the jobsworth (British slang for overly officious and inflexible idiot) at the airport telling the man his friends could not lift him in the wheelchair up the stairs. The news said he worked for a subcontractor, not for Vanilla itself. It was this man engineered the situation where the disabled gentleman crawled up the stairs. It sounds like it was the disabled man's choice to diffuse the situation rather than something he was "forced" to do. Another solution would have been for his friends to tell the jobsworth to shut up and carry him up the stairs regardless.

While the disabled man is clearly the injured party, he did not tell the airline about his disability when he booked the flight. As the head of the "Japan Accessible Tourism Center", you would think it was something he would know about.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Some of remember the good old days when humans possessed common sense and empathy for others with a disabilities.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

YubaruToday 07:22 am JSTThis is more about a few employees being arse' s than the entire company.

Well, the Vanilla employee allowed the passenger to board at Kansai with help from his friends, and he disembarked at Amami the same way.

It looks to me the "arse" is this subcontract worker at Amami.

On their return flight on June 5, an airport worker on an outsourcing contract with Vanilla stopped them when they tried to climb up the stairs in the same manner, citing Vanilla regulations.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Do you want a budget airline, or do you want to pay to have every jet and every gateway converted on the off chance that some day a disabled person might use it?

These are small aircraft and small airports and it was a new route for Summer 2017. I suspect if he had flown the full price JAL or ANA the facilities might have laid on. It's the nature of low cost airlines that their services are basic and stripped down.

Funnily enough, looking at the website, it is clearly stated that Amami Airport "does provide a Passenger Boarding Bridge connecting to the terminal building" so he must have known what he was doing in advance.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The worker allegedly told Kijima he could board the plane if he "can climb up the stairs on his own with the assistance" of people travelling with him.

This worker needs to be relieved of his job as should the CEO of Vanilla air...you can add to that list the person who came up with the airline name!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Dango bongToday  07:36 am JST

"people who cannot walk cannot fly"

This country is hosting the Olympics!?!?!

Better still, The Paralympics!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

This country has a lot to work on before any olympicstake place. Especially when it comes to race, handicapped and disabled people.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There is an accounting concept called Good Will (as opposed to bad will), which is the perceived value of a company's reliability to do what it is supposed to do and its reputation. It is an intangible asset (as opposed to a tangible asset on which fixed monetary value can be placed). Good will value can go up and down a lot in a short space of time.

Congratulations to Vanilla Air for losing a substantial amount of its corporate value due to loss of good will. All this in an economy and society where reputation is primary and a premium on good service is the norm.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

thepersoniamnowToday  07:57 am JST

"For all the focus on politeness, disabled people are really looked down on in Japan."

I was taking the train from Tokyo to Narita last year. It was a regular commuter. A woman got on in a wheel chair at a local stop. A JR employee helped her onto the train and set her up, then left. I wondered what she would do when she got to her stop. The answer: another JR employee was waiting for her on the platform and came on to help her off.

I think it's unfair to paint the entire country with this anti handicap brush. I think a rigid adherence to the rules is a more probable explanation for this fiasco.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Universal design should be part of every airport, seaport for cruises and train station in Japan, especially with the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo come 2020.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

For all the focus on politeness, disabled people are really looked down on in Japan.

Actually, I think Japan is one of the most progressive countries on its treatment of the physically handicapped. Many upon many examples you see if you just left your house. I am not going to take this incident by some stupid staff/company and generalize as a Japan thing.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

When they arrived at Amami, the friends lifted Kijima along with his wheelchair and climbed down the passenger stairs.

A technical point, perhaps, but wouldn't the passenger's own wheelchair have to be carried in the hold? Up until now, I had assumed that disabled passengers would have to use a wheelchair provided at the airport to board and alight an aircraft, one which would stowed somewhere in the departures/arrivals area.

I'm sure that it can be mitigated to an extent, but let's be realistic - having disabled passengers aboard does present a health and safety issue - not least for the disabled passengers. It would take a better man than me to stop and assist a disabled person if my backside were on fire.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Do you want a budget airline, or do you want to pay to have every jet and every gateway converted on the off chance that some day a disabled person might use it?

@Hammerhead, I think we'd all like to see a situation where humans can help other humans out where necessary. It doesn't cost the airline anything to let the gentleman's friends help him up the stairs.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The apology was offered to Kijima after he informed the transport ministry about the incident.

Its amazing how a good old-fashioned #ss-chewing from a bureaucrat miraculously changes the entire attitude of the crew...after they both publicly and royally screwed-up.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Guess them Paralympians all gonna have to swim over...?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

木島さんは関空の搭乗カウンターでタラップの写真を見せられ、「歩けない人は乗れない」と言われた。

At the Kansai Airport counter he was shown a photo of the steps and told 'Those that can't walk can't board'

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Watching a report of this on the news last night, the impression I got was that it was just the one contracted jobsworth who created the incident, not Vanilla Air, not the crew of the plane, not Amami Airport.

Storm in a teacup, though I appreciate a very bitter cup for Mr. Kijima.

And the airport should have means of accommodating disabled passengers.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Not such a big story TBH. The guy tried to stop him from crawling up but he crawled up anyway.

The airline apologized and now has a completely improved accessibility policy implemented which will prevent the same thing from occurring in future. The victim wasn't even that upset so good on him as well.

I also agree with the airline that airline staff should not be physically helping passengers up stairs as there would be hell to pay if the passenger is dropped and sustains an injury.

There's a lot of strange anger towards the airline in the comments, but I would say this is standard world wide.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Such customers should inform the airline they have special needs.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Do you want a budget airline, or do you want to pay to have every jet and every gateway converted on the off chance that some day a disabled person might use it?

These are small aircraft and small airports and it was a new route for Summer 2017. I suspect if he had flown the full price JAL or ANA the facilities might have laid on. It's the nature of low cost airlines that their services are basic and stripped down.

Funnily enough, looking at the website, it is clearly stated that Amami Airport "does provide a Passenger Boarding Bridge connecting to the terminal building" so he must have known what he was doing in advance.

Funnily enough, reading the article it is readily apparent that all of that information you provided is irrelevant. The guy indeed knew all of that in advance and like a responsible adult had planned accordingly: his friends were going to carry him up the stairs. Perfectly reasonable plan.

Then the airline employees stepped in and literally forced him to crawl up the stairs. Can't fault him for not predicting the airline would treat him that unreasonably.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Sad state of affairs. Wheel chair users are helped on and off trains and even city buses. Sometimes we wait a little longer at a bus stop while the driver loads the wheelchair user and firmly secures the chair with safety belts. The reverse happens when the user gets off. With the train I think the wheelchair user must phone the stations concerned.

So why not airplanes.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The airline requests that passengers needing special assistance boarding should inform the airlines few days before flight, which on this case the passenger admitted that he did not do.

Not defending the airline or blaming the passenger, just stating facts from what I saw and understood on TV last night that is not mentioned on this article.

Glad that the airlines is making revision to their policy for passengers needing special assistance although I read that they already have plans on addressing this issue well before this incident occurred. I think this case is just a matter of an employee strictly playing by the book and refuse to bend some rules and a passenger not wanting to trouble others because of his condition.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A belated apology is not enough. They took away this man's dignity. Never flying with Vanilla.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"Do you laiku Japanese omotenashi?"

Remember a few weeks ago when JT asked what users thought of Japanese service quality? Lots of people saying it was great because staff are so pleasant? I bet the Vanilla employee who said, "people who cannot walk cannot fly" was just as polite and pleasant.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@inkjet

I'm talking about general stereotypes.

The handicapped and mentally handicapped are often looked down upon and hidden.

Im from here, I know what I'm talking about as I saw it my whole life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can understand why the worker refused at first - it was company policy or some BS like that, but not allowing his friends to assist? And then after telling the flyer that he must go up on his own, he goes back on his word when he realizes the man is going to make him eat his words! That's the part I found outrageous.

It's obvious he didn't think it was possible. He said he just to be a p-rick. And then he goes back on his word. Nasty fellow.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hats off to Kijima! When the staffer tried to stop him, he should have punched him in the groin, too.. although Kijima obviously took the high road by simply taking up the man's sarcastic challenge. And the. He only gets an apology when HE brings it up to boot?? Shame on ANA and Vanilla Air, and I hope that staffer gets fired.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What was told to the man at Kansai, and how it was translated here are two totally different things altogether.

Also, the man himself COULD have been assisted up the stairs by the people with him, just not them carrying him up the stairs in the chair itself.

He took it upon himself to crawl up the stairs unassisted.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It seems like a breakdown in communication between airlines and airport staff, as in the case of the ANA passengers who were inadvertently routed past immigration.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not so simple. Isn´t this also a safety issue for all passengers in case of an emergency?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This is very unfortunate. It does mater how advanced you are if you don't treat people right.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only to install an elevator when embarking and disembarking to wheelchair user and an international law to all airlines have it installed, isn't that right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very unusual behavior for Japanese airline staff. Maybe the staff in charge was trained by an infamous American carrier or does the staff in charge represent the 'new normal' of ANA's budget airline? Anyhow, the person(s) in charge for this public relation failure should be reprimanded or even dismissed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan is to hold the Paralympic games 3 years from now but this kind of idiocy is still happening.

I recently got into a debate with a journalist about just how ready Japan is to handle people with physical disabilities and voiced my concerns that while some areas have made headway in the last 10 years, anything involving narrow sets of stairs has been neglected by both government and private interests.

Japan has a long way to go before physically handicapped people are able to move around freely. The Paralympic athletes are going to be disappointed when they take a trip out of Tokyo and realize they can't go anywhere because the infrastructure is not there and the people don't know how to help, or don't want to help.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The employees could not carry him up because if there was an accident, they'd get blamed and sued. It was contrary to H&S policy.

It was a rational safety issue, not a discrimination issue.

I think this person would very gladly have waived any rights to sue employees if it were the difference between getting on the plane and not getting on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hammerhead wrote:

Since when was being able to fly a "human right"?

Good point. Not very decent of the airline, but a "human right"?

Hammerhead, I'd like you to pursue the same vein of thought. What other conveniences are not actually "human rights"?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I feel that in the 21 century, that ever air port should be able to handle wheelchair users, especially when it comes to a modern country like Japan, I could understand that a air port some where in the middle of Africa might not have these facilities. Even if the air port does not have the facilities the air line should have stated this when some one books, as for letting him crawl up the stairs to board, WTF is going on here? this is just so wrong on so many levels.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Refund of the ticket price would have been a good idea for public relations in this instance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While the disabled man is clearly the injured party, he did not tell the airline about his disability when he booked the flight. As the head of the "Japan Accessible Tourism Center", you would think it was something he would know about.

And you know this how? Ever consider that he KNEW and was making a point as well? He was given the opportunity to have his friends assist him up the stairs without the wheel chair but HE refused and climbed the stairs himself. Blame Vanilla for some crass people, but he KNEW, why you ask?

READ THE DAMN ARTICLE!

When he and his friends checked in at Kansai airport on June 3, a Vanilla employee told him that "people who cannot walk cannot fly" to Amami due to the accessibility problem at the airport.

Which is a totally poor translation of what actually happened. Not to mention that Vanilla knew he had a disability PRIOR to leaving, but the man went anyway, relying on his friends.

He knew as well that he would have problems leaving Amami, and COULD have used his friends for assistance but made the choice, (and his point) about accessibility issues at Amami AP.

Again, the employee was crass, at Amami, yet I HIGHLY doubt the person at Kansai told him, 歩くできない人は飛ぶをできません(Aruku dekinai hito wa tobu o dekimasen) No Japanese airline or service industry employee would be so crass and arrogant sounding. Really, after 30 plus years of living here , never experienced something so crass, and I am "gaijin", this dude is Japanese and would have noticed the nuances right off. No one told him, "If you can't walk, you can't fly" that's.

Probably something more along the lines of 申し訳ございません Mōshiwakegozaimasen お顧客自身で歩くできない O kokyaku jishin de aruku dekinai、人は、飛ぶことをできませんですHito wa, tobu koto o dekimasendesu。

Or something along those lines, so the translation here, is being liberal beyond belief, and makes Vanilla look like a bunch of cold hearted people.

The reality is totally something different.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

What surprises me is that they even allowed the individual to take 3 or 4 minutes to crawl up a stairway. I cannot imagine any other nation that would have allowed that.

In fight health and safety rules are quite reasonably very strictly applied, and "no, I am sorry" should have meant no in this situation until the airport had proper facilities.

The lack of facilities is stated on the website. I am sorry but this was just a piece of irresponsible showmanship.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Jeezus Yubaru did you use google translate or something? 歩くできない? 飛ぶをできません?? Never met even a 外国人 airline employee who spoke Japanese like that. In English we say we "fly" when we take a plane, but in Japanese it sounds like you're trying to be a bird. I haven't looked into it but I'd guess they said something like 歩くのが不自由なお方は搭乗できません。This messed up whatever point you're trying to make. 30 years eh?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And what percentage of profits from the airline did the passenger settle for? I don't think he even got a yen. Hit companies where it hurts - the pocketbook- and see service improve for real.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Vanilla Air is taking pointers from the U.S. airlines, I see. Just waiting for the CEO to put his foot in his mouth. May be coming soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jeezus Yubaru did you use google translate or something? 歩くできない? 飛ぶをできません?? Never met even a 外国人 airline employee who spoke Japanese like that. In English we say we "fly" when we take a plane, but in Japanese it sounds like you're trying to be a bird. I haven't looked into it but I'd guess they said something like 歩くのが不自由なお方は搭乗できません。This messed up whatever point you're trying to make. 30 years eh?

Do you even READ comments prior to commenting? Or, more likely you stop in the middle, and get snarky along the way?

Or something along those lines, so the translation here, is being liberal beyond belief, and makes Vanilla look like a bunch of cold hearted people.

There are numerous ways that it could have been said, I gave one example, and btw in airline lingo here, 飛ぶ。。IS commonly used.

Your misunderstanding of the 申し訳ございません,お顧客自身で歩くできない人は、飛ぶことをできませんで. It is with regret, that if the customer is unable to walk under their own power, they will be unable to fly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yubaru, while there are always many ways to say something, the examples you gave were simply grammatically incorrect on a kindergarten level. Do you not realize that "arukudekinai" (歩くできない)is wrong and arukenai (歩けない) is correct? It is very easy to spot ridiculous usage of any language for those who actually understand that language. You shouldn't be posting an argument based on "translation" such being the case. My nephew is a pilot for JAL and he says 飛ぶ to mean "fly" is used by pilots and those in that field. Not by airline employees to passengers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

a big disappointment. ana is my first choice to book, really need to look into

this and re-train employees. horrible customer service provided to passenger.

climbed up the stairs. unbelievable, heartless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please put this Company out of Business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I feel that in the 21 century, that ever air port should be able to handle wheelchair users, especially when it comes to a modern country like Japan

Maybe some start to realize that Japan is not a modern country regarding many points, in the contrary, pretty stuck in dark age for everything related to human dignity and human rights.

The airline requests that passengers needing special assistance boarding should inform the airlines few days before flight, which on this case the passenger admitted that he did not do.

So let him crawl and watch the humiliation for several minutes, pretty nice logic..not!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

REALLY!!! This Company, it's management and Employees need to be out of a Job, pronto.

And Japan wants to host Para-Olympic Games too ? Forget it... Politicians need to get involved in order to save face of Japan - this is DISGRACEFUL.

Utterly Disgraceful, and eliminates at a stroke, all Humanitarian efforts Japan has been trying to promote itself upon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Bungle - I truely hope that you never need to rely upon others for assistance in life, no matter how old you are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"ThonTaddeoJune 29 04:10 pm JST"

You might be surprised how deep runs the impurity in some people. They did not exactly carry him on the plane not because they are anti-social scum who buy every Nietzsche re-edition, but because it is simply against the regulations of their company and they are afraid what might come next. Take a look at Western, mostly American civilization. For every two good deeds, one is exploited.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's interesting, many of you jump on this company which after hearing the reports, took measures to improve. While there was an employee who was a complete and utter c&%t. I understand the resentment, but come on guys, some of you are blaming the entire country, going as far as to mention the country being the wrong place for the Olympic games.

Yes, there are plenty of people in Japan like this douchebag employee, but that doesn't mean the whole country needs to be looked down upon.

With that kind of attitude, I'm sure the countries in which many of you may hail from, can be seen in the exact same way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A few of my co-workers were wheelchair bound, no problems.

Granted Station designs improved as did no-step buses, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"How a human being could stand there watching this humiliating act and do nothing is, thankfully, beyond my imagination.  I think it hints at something dark in the hearts of many Japanese when it comes to the disabled"

This is nothing compared to hospital emergency room staff throwing a patient still in extreme pain out of the hospital because  "Sorry, we can't do anything more for you."    Yes, it happened recently.

"I also agree with the airline that airline staff should not be physically helping passengers up stairs as there would be hell to pay if the passenger is dropped and sustains an injury."

Can you imagine- accidents might happen!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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