Wheel deal: Wheelchair activist challenges airline’s boarding ban

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A complaint has been lodged against an airline by an activist bound by a wheelchair, after the airline prohibited him from boarding, arguing that he did not have an escort. Kritsana Lalai, representing the Network for Transport Mobility for All, presented his complaint to Varawut Silpa-archa, the Minister for Social Development and Human Security.

Reacting to the situation, the minister assigned the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities to investigate the complaint. The department will then forward the complaint to its internal panel dedicated to combating the unfair treatment of disabled individuals.

Thai Vietjet, on February 29, declared that they had adhered strictly to procedures regarding the incident. According to the airlines, passengers with mobility issues requiring assistance must alert the airline at least 48 hours in advance. Furthermore, they should be accompanied by an able-bodied person who willingly agrees to act as their escort, especially in emergency situations.

However, in Kritsana’s situation, none of the four individuals scheduled to travel with him agreed to act as his escort, as per the airline’s statement. This led to the denial of boarding for Kritsana, sparking the current controversy and subsequent investigation, reported Bangkok Post.

In related news, in 2019, an Israeli tourist faced denial of boarding on a Chiang Mai to Bangkok flight due to his electric wheelchair, sparking a human rights inquiry by the NHRC. Despite pre-notification, the airline refused him, leading to a confrontation.

NHRC Commissioner Wasan Paileeklee criticized the airline’s actions, citing violations of disability rights laws. Investigations into Chiang Mai Airport’s disability policies were initiated, with recommendations made to improve services.

The NHRC aimed to ensure equal opportunities for people with disabilities, stressing the importance of protecting their rights in air travel. Recommendations were forwarded to authorities, urging attention from the Cabinet and Transport Ministry to safeguard the rights of disabled individuals in the future.

Aviation NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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