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Jetstar Asia apologizes for not allowing disabled man on plane

19 Comments

Jetstar Asia Airways has apologized to a disabled man for not allowing him to board a flight from Thailand to Japan last September. The low cost carrier issued the apology this week after news of the incident became public.

According to Japanese media reports on Friday, Kenichi Okubo, 38, who suffers from cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair, was booked on a flight from Bangkok to Fukuoka. However, when he attempted to board the plane, he was denied entry after being told that the airline requires prior notification that passengers with special needs will be traveling on a flight. Okubo was forced to spend the night in the airport terminal and catch a flight to Fukuoka the next day.

Jetstar says on its website, regarding passengers with special needs: "You must let us know that you require specific assistance when you book so that we can make arrangements for you – including arranging staff and any required equipment ready for your arrival. If you do not give us prior notification of your specific assistance needs, we will try to accommodate your needs within our operational constraints. However, if you have not advised us of your assistance needs in advance, we may not be able to accommodate your travel preferences."

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) issued a public declaration regarding the incident, accusing the airline of a human rights violation.

At a news conference in Osaka on Thursday, attended by Okubo, a JFBA spokesman said that Jetstar could have easily allowed Okubo to board the plane before everyone else, minimizing any inconvenience to other passengers, Livedoor News reported. "There was absolutely no reason for the airline's behavior," he said.

Jetstar Asia, which is headquartered in Singapore, has issued an apology saying, "This incident is a result of a myriad of intertwining circumstances, but nonetheless, we offer our most sincere apologies to all our customers for not taking care to offer the absolute highest level of service."

Okubo, who lives in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, works as a freelance writer. He said he had no problem with his Fukuoka-Bangkok flight.

© Japan Today

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19 Comments
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Why does Jetstar need to apologize? It states this very clearly: if you use a wheelchair you need to give prior notice so that the staff can get your boarded in a timely way. If a person doesn't like that condition, then they can book with another airline.

This is a budget airline, and ALL its passengers enjoy super low fares but at the price of less comfort and convenience, and also a greater risk of cancellations, etc. Everyone, regardless of their situation, needs to understand this.

Otherwise, ticket fares will go higher and higher as the airline adapts to accommodate everyone's differing needs. That's not how the LCC model works.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

It states this very clearly: if you use a wheelchair you need to give prior notice so that the staff can get your boarded in a timely way.

But Jeff, that's not exactly what it says. It seems to say that you must give prior notice if you want to guarantee that you will be boarded. However, even if you don't, they say that they will still try to accomodate you.

It's hard to know what to make of this. The airline actually seems to admit that they fell short. Maybe they made absolutely no effort at all? It's one of those cases where you probably had to be there to see what actually happened.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"The airline actually seems to admit that they fell short"

Hmmm. Did you see the wording, particularly the clever use of "nonetheless," and "to ALL our customers." It is a strategic PR move. If they refused to give what appears to be an apology, the case would become prolonged, damaging its reputation and effecting sales.

"Maybe they made absolutely no effort at all?"

They accommodated him on his outbound flight. When my wife went overweight on her luggage on her outbound flight, the airline allowed it but warned her there would be a penalty or worse if she didnt comply on the return flight. Being a rational, responsible adult, she complied. I suspect a similar thing here.

"It's one of those cases where you probably had to be there"

I've flown on LCCs including Jetsar, a few times. and know and accept the hassles. The unspoken agreement is, you probably aren't going to get everything you want when you want it, so just put up with it...and enjoy the extra money you saved on the ticket price.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If he expected to sit in his wheelchair for the duration of the flight then I can see why Jetstar might have refused him. But if he had a seat booked and his wheelchair was included in his luggage allocation then I guess Jetstar may have a case to answer. We really need more information.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I read an article of Japan Times version. It said "the customer had noticed that he was disabled but he could ride an airplane by himself" and there's no replay by Jet Stars. I can understand that Jet Star's limited staffs can't accommodate disabled people. However, considering how went there, it's a Jet Star's mistake.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Such totally unacceptable discrimination in today's world deserve utmost condemnation!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

...human rights violation?

The more rights you claim, the less freedom you have.

Seems more like a modicum of common sense was required...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

a JFBA spokesman said that Jetstar could have easily allowed Okubo to board the plane before everyone else, minimizing any inconvenience to other passengers,

Indeed they could have, HAD they been given prior notice. Good grief.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Okubo says he had no problem, so he's clearly not outraged, so this seems to be another in the increasingly common trend of people being outraged on behalf of others.

JFBA has no right to be offended if Okubo wasn't. They have no right to use his name and disability to push their own agendas. It strikes me as exploitative.

Okubo seems to tacitly acknowledge he didn't give the required notice (no judgement here, perhaps he just forgot). Jetstar apologised for being unable to accomodate him on that flight, but they did arrange a flight the next day - and both parties seem to be satisfied with the outcome... so why does JFBA need to create a problem where there isn't one?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And what will Jetstar do for him? Absolutely nothing but a public apology. One of the worst airlines for reimbursing the customer.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I would totally enjoy commenting on this Airline but my comment would be deleted. All I will say is THIS IS NOT A AIRLINE YOU SHOULD USED. I would advise.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It should be noted that he had no problem with his Fukuoka-Bangkok flight, but he was refused boarding on his Bangkok-Fukuoka flight. WTF.

I suspect that Jetstar Asia failed to get a confirmation of his Fukuoka-Bangkok flight. Hopefully, they didn't get lazy in making sure of it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@jeff lee,

Are you disabled or have to care for a person that is disabled?, I doubt that. The guy paid his fare and was not allowed to board because he is disabled, what a bunch of poop. What special equipment or procedures does an airline need to have in place. They deal with disabled passengers every day and have the training and equipment. That is like a restaurant saying that someone who is disabled cannot eat here or if you have an allergy to peanuts we can't serve you. There are more mentally challenged people travelling the airways each day than folks with physical disabilities. The passenger knew his situation, booked a flight and the airline had some jerk or jerkess that was following company guidelines and not common sense to assess the situation. If the man needed an intravenous pump or some special device I can understand the concern but this passenger was not a special needs passenger.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

JeffLee you need to understand that it not a low cost Airline. 20kg Bag limit and are reviewing it to 15 KG, You have to order your meal 24 hours before the flight time. They never open their desk on time. They make you wait in line for 2 hours.Then tell you that you you have to hurry to your gate because you have 30 minutes. The flight time have bee brought forward. all this for the same price as JAL flight with a 46Kg bag limit to Sydney with meals.which is direct. They do not have Hashi on this flight even when the 90% of the passengers are Asian. The flight crew must do their Customer Service training with Isis.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

HawkeyeMay. 23, 2015 - 02:47PM JST The guy paid his fare and was not allowed to board because he is disabled, what a bunch of poop. What special equipment or procedures does an airline need to have in place. They deal with disabled passengers every day and have the training and equipment.

Equipment required for transporting someone with cerebral palsy may include:

Airplane accessible wheelchair (many wheelchairs will not fit inside airplanes) Special brace with spinal support for take-off and landing (non-disabled patients can resist the jerking, but patients with cerebral palsy might not be able to) Special seatbelt (in case of turbulence) Special floatation devices Person's personal medical equipment (which may require special seating arrangements)

... and for insurance purposes they need flight crew who have received training on using this equipment

These are NOT standard issue and airlines do NOT carry a set of these on every plane.

And if all the extra equipment that this person had to carry on to the plane meant that two other passengers had to be bumped to make space? No.

At the end of the day Mr. Okubo didn't inform the airline in advance and the airline was very polite in apologising, but there is no human rights violation here.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

geez its a LLC, basically a bus with wings, if you want special service, extra services, pay twice as much and fly a regular carrier.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Actually if you want a seat with NOTHING it is cheaper but if you want anything including checked luggage than ANA was cheaper in my search. ANA 81,790 yen vs Jetstar 89,790 yen with less. The 28,500 yen fare is a cramped seat and 7 kg of carry on. Worse you can not select the seat ahead of time so it is the worse seat on the plane. So you will be the middle seat, so to me it is no bargain. My professional gear ie computer, etc weighs enough to use my carry on, so what clothes would I wear?

My bet is he had no trouble from Fukuoka because the airline would not want to be finned. Out of Bangkok he had less protection or perhaps the employees did not want the bother.

To the protectors of Jetstar, do you really fly to another country with perhaps a change of clothing?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What if this guy booked a first class or business class seat without notification of his condition? Wonder if he is stopped from boarding???/

Nowadays, airlines only care much about their profits, apologise only comes in after the news went public, how sincere can they be????

all human beings regardless of their physical conditions should be treated equally......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@iskysong

all human beings regardless of their physical conditions should be treated equally......

I have a relative that is bedridden after a stroke.

If I want to take him on holiday, should I just book a ticket, turn up at the airport, and expect every airplane of every airline to have a special bed section so he can travel?

BTW, when are they going to offer bunk beds for budget long haul air flights? I'll book one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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