NST – July 16, 2007: ‘Now everyone can fly’, except the disabled

2007/07/16
‘Now everyone can fly’, except the disabled

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SEPANG: AirAsia may use “Now Everyone Can Fly” as its tagline but not everyone can actually fly with the low-cost carrier.
The airline does not take passengers who are wheel- chair users.

Wheelchair-bound Peter Tan said he couldn’t book tickets through AirAsia’s website because he could not tick the box confirming he did not require special assistance.

“I couldn’t proceed because of it and each time I contacted the call centre, I was told: ‘If you can’t walk. then we can’t take you, It is company policy’,” he said.

Tan was among the 40 members of the Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) who staged a peaceful protest at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) here yesterday to express their disappointment with AirAsia’s refusal to take passengers requiring special assistance.
Tan, who is BEAT assistant co-ordinator, said the AirAsia operator at the call centre informed him that if he could not manage the steps of the airplane himself, he had to bring someone to help him.

“Even so, it will still be impossible for us as our carer can’t possibly carry us onboard,” Tan added.

BEAT co-ordinator Christine Lee said there must be some mechanism AirAsia could use to lift passengers up to the aircraft, similar to those used to load luggage and food.

Lee said AirAsia should provide facilities for passengers who were immobile and those with limited mobility.

The group is calling on Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to ensure all new and old airports are equipped with facilities to improve accessibility for the disabled.

An AirAsia spokesman declined to comment on the matter.