Last Updated on 2022-10-02 , 2:07 pm
Just yesterday (30 September), Malaysian budget airline AirAsia issued an apology after a disabled passenger was filmed having to crawl to his wheelchair to disembark from his flight.
The apology came after two videos of a paraplegic man having to crawl his way along the aisle of the airplane to his wheelchair after the airplane landed at Changi Airport from Jakarta went viral on TikTok.
The videos also revealed that the airline had asked the passenger to pay $40 for an aisle wheelchair just for him to travel on it for three metres to the end of the airplane’s aisle.
The first clip, which was five seconds long, was a video posted by TikTok user @keliateva and showed the middle-aged man struggling to crawl through the narrow aisle of the aircraft while holding on to a seat handle.
@keliateva we landed at changi airport with airasia QZ268 from Jakarta in Sept 29, 2022 and asked to pay $40 for aisle wheelchair just to get out from the 3F seat to his wheelchair which is 3 meters away. this is how airasia treats their paraplegic passangers #airasia #tonyfernandes ♬ original sound – Eva Keliat
The video also featured a staff member of the aircraft telling someone nearby, “It is not your fault”.
The second video, posted by the same user, showed two airline staff, one male and one female, trying to help the man up at the end of the aisle despite his refusal.
@keliateva we landed at changi airport with airasia QZ268 from Jakarta in Sept 29, 2022 and they demanded $40 from us for an aisle wheelchair just to get out from the 3F seat to his wheelchair which is 3 meters away. this is how airasia treats their paraplegic passangers #airasia #tonyfernandes #paraplegic #wheelchair ♬ original sound – Eva Keliat
The second video lasted nine seconds.
Both videos had the same caption complaining of the airline’s service towards its disabled passengers, which read, “We landed at changi airport with AirAsia QZ268 from Jakarta in Sept 29, 2022 and they demanded $40 from us for an aisle wheelchair just to get out from the 3F seat to his wheelchair which is 3 meters away. This is how AirAsia treats their paraplegic passengers (sic).”
Since then, both videos have gone viral.
After the videos went viral, AirAsia confirmed that the airline has reached out to the passenger in the video to sincerely apologise for his experience on the aircraft, and that such an incident will not occur again in the future.
Mr Kesavan Sivanandam, Chief Airport and Customer Experience officer at AirAsia, also told MSNews that the airline does have various measures and services available for guests who may have mobility issues or disabilities such as providing them with an aisle wheelchair.
These services can be requested online in advance when guests book their airplane tickets, and AirAsia emphaised that this is “highlighted during the booking process”.
AirAsia did not specify whether or not the passenger had booked an aisle wheelchair, but the videos suggest that he did not since there was no wheelchair present.
It also highlighted to TODAYonline that their guests’ safety and well-being are their top priority.
Wheelchair Service Not for Free
Based on AirAsia’s booking website, the aisle wheelchair services for AirAsia are not free of charge.
The prices, which are shown to passengers when they book their tickets, are different based on the departing and arrival countries that passengers are booking their tickets for.
Based on the prices on the website, the passenger would have been charged $11 since he was flying into Singapore from Jakarta.
On the other hand, the TikTok user who posted the videos claimed that the airline asked them for $40 on the aircraft itself when the passenger was getting off the plane.
Since the videos were posted, they have garnered more than 1.2 million views collectively.
They have also surpassed 19,000 likes, with the first video having more than 14,000 likes.
In the comments section, although some people sided with @keliateva on TikTok, others pointed out that AirAsia is a budget airline, meaning that these extra services will also incur additional costs for passengers who request them.
There were also netizens who noted that the cabin crew had done their due duty in trying to help the man, with one netizen commenting, “You can see clearly the crew trying their best to help.”
Others questioned why the person recording the video, whom netizens presumed to be the passenger’s family member or travel partner, was filming the whole incident instead of helping him get off the plane.
“If you listen closely the crews were actually asking someone to help the guy,” one netizen wrote.
Some commenters also asked how the man boarded the plane in the first place, with one person sharing that passengers with special needs will usually be seated at the front of the aircraft.
There were also netizens who commented that they would reserve their judgement until they heard the other side of the story.
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Featured Image: TikTok (@keliateva)
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