Come fly the friendly skies, we'll break your legs for you
Last Updated: Sun Sep 17 2023
I haven't done a lot of non car travel since I got home from the hospital almost three and a half years ago, and I certainly haven't done any flying, but stories like this - How a trip home on Qantas left disability advocate Akii Ngo stranded with a broken wheelchair - give me the heebs.
The tl;dr is Akii Ngo took a short flight from Canberra to Melbourne, on one end they had a functioning powered wheelchair that enabled them to move around and be part of society, on the other they had this:
The entire left side of the wheelchair had become detached, with numerous mounting screws loose and missing, as well as a crooked guard cover and misaligned wheel.
In essence if Akii had been a non disabled passenger, it's the same as if they came and knee capped her halfway through the flight.
The sad thing is that this sort of story isn't unusual. Here's a sample:
- Delta Airlines Replaces Moorhead Teen’s Electric Wheelchair Damaged in June - Thanks to the airline breaking this teenagers chair she developed a pressure sore. That meant she was stuck in bed for 22 hours a day waiting for it to heal. You DO NOT WANT a pressure sore
- Wheelchair damage after a flight is 'a major obstacle' for this traveler with a disability - Bad handling by airline staff damaged this womans chair to the point where they're having to rely on gaffer tape and zip ties to repair it. Note no apparent attempt by the airline to fix the issues.
- 'Traveling by flight is not a great idea for me' with wheelchair damage risk, flyer says - Bits of this ladies chair were left on the plane. Thankfully the airline stepped up to get repairs done
I'm a long way off needing to fly anywhere, but I'm not seeing an industry that's putting the interests of their disabled passengers front and centre. Chairs should never be treated as "luggage", they are expensive tools, tailored to their users and the damage can have real health consequences, both physical and mental.
I really need to do more Tech & Disability blogging don't I.