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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 28 - July 4  > Male wheelchair airline passenger forced to climb up boarding stairs using only his arms
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2017 June 28 - July 4 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Male wheelchair airline passenger forced to climb up boarding stairs using only his arms

June 29, 2017
A Japanese low-cost carrier, Vanilla Air, had told a male passenger with paralyzed legs to get off a wheelchair and climb up boarding stairs using only his arms, Akahata learned on June 28.

The man in his 40s on June 5 went to Amami Airport in Kagoshima to board a Vanilla Air flight to Kansai Airport in Osaka. Unlike other airports that Vanilla Air uses, Amami airport is an exception in which the carrier did not have the equipment to lift passengers in wheelchairs onto a plane. So, persons accompanying the man started to lift him up along with his wheelchair to take on board. However, they were stopped by some ground crew members who said that such an act violates the carrier’s rules. As a result, the man had to somehow go up the stairs without receiving any support.

After the incident, Vanilla Air apologized to the man and decided to begin providing wheelchair-friendly services also at Amami Airport by the end of June, one month earlier than the date initially planned.

Mitsuhashi Tsuneo, who heads a national liaison council of persons with physical disabilities’ organizations, said that the latest incident indicated that many companies and many people in Japan have yet to sufficiently understand domestic laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled and the UN Treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mitsuhashi noted that a few years ago, another low-cost carrier refused to allow a passenger with physical disabilities from boarding. At that time, he went on to say, the liaison council urged the Transport Ministry to instruct all airline companies to end unfair treatment of persons with disabilities. Despite this, it appears that the ministry failed to give adequate instructions to carriers, Mitsuhashi pointed out.

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