Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another reason not to fly JetStar

There were already plenty of reasons not to fly Jetstar, but now we have another: they discriminate against the disabled:

Jetstar's treatment of two high-profile disabled campaigners has been condemned as unacceptable by Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia.

Tanya Black and Dan Buckingham – presenters of TVNZ disability show Attitude – had been due to fly from Auckland to Wellington yesterday morning but were not allowed on to their aircraft after they were told they each needed to fly with their own caregiver.

After an embarrassing standoff of 20 minutes or more, they ditched Jetstar and bought new tickets to Wellington on Air New Zealand.

Jetstar told The Dominion Post it would be apologising, and refunding their fares. It confirmed part of the airline's concern was about how they might get to the toilet on the hour-long flight.

This is clearly unlawful under the Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in access to vehicles and the provision of goods and services. While there is an exemption for public safety, the last paragraph shows that its clearly not the issue here. Instead, its that Jetstar thinks that its deliberate understaffing to cut costs gives it an exemption from the law.

Jetstar needs to be told that this is not acceptable. Hopefully the Human Rights Commission will make that very clear to them.