“Will I have to drag my husband along the airport floor?”
This is a confronting question a distressed lady was forced to ask Virgin Airlines Australia, as they said they are unable to provide gate to plane wheelchair access for her husband, who is incapable of walking.
Last Friday, a lady booked a domestic flight through a travel centre based in Wollongong with Virgin Airlines, requesting the special service of a wheelchair. The travel centre put the request in the system, expecting no problems. But the response from Virgin, the second largest airline in Australia after Qantas, has been ludicrous. The company cannot provide a wheelchair for the flight 1531 from Hobart to Sydney today.
The travel agent who secured the flight for the couple has had to conduct numerous phone calls with Virgin, pleading with supervisors and managers to provide a wheelchair for their customer, but the worker emphasised “we have gotten nowhere”.
The travel centre was informed that the best thing to do would be to change departure dates in order for a better chance of receiving a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, the couple are unable to change their flight and will still be arriving at Hobart’s Domestic Airport today in complete anxiety about the whole issue. The travel centre did press to Chattr that it is not legally wrong to not provide a wheelchair (even though it should be), but it is, of course, insensitive to the customers who will be boarding the flight and are promised that their “safety and comfort is important” to Virgin.
Virgin Airlines has released a media statement:
“The flight has reached its maximum number in the wheelchair policy… we will still try our best to accommodate the man.”
On March 21st this year, Virgin was reported to receive a $425 million loan from major shareholders such as Air New Zealand and Etihad Airways. For an airline of such success, you would think Virgin would be capable of moving forward to change a policy which is currently limiting assistance for disabled customers.