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