Paralympian forced to haul herself up stairs to board WestJet flight: A humiliating experience

‘Humiliating’: Former Paralympian forced to haul herself up stairs to board WestJet flight


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“WestJet Fails to Accommodate Paralympian Upon Returning Home: Problematic Inaction of Canadian Airline”

A former Paralympian, Sarah Morris-Probert, found herself in a challenging situation due to the inaction of a Canadian airline when she was flying WestJet from Cabo San Lucas to Kelowna. Morris-Probert, who is the president of BC Adaptive Snowsports, faced difficulty boarding the flight using her wheelchair as there was no safe way for her to get up. While the crew on her departure flight was helpful, the return journey was a different story. She was left with no choice but to lift herself up the stairs, and then transferred to an aisle chair at the top, all while people watched in frustration and embarrassment.

Disappointing History with WestJet

This is not the first time that Morris-Probert has had an experience like this one. She was previously told by WestJet senior management that it must have been an isolated incident of the airline’s failure to accommodate her. However, this recurring issue not only affects her but raises serious concerns for others with disabilities. Maayan Ziv, the founder and CEO of Access Now, emphasized that Morris-Probert’s experience is not unique and reflects a systemic issue within the airline industry that is in dire need of government intervention.

The Need for Accountability and Change

Ziv stressed that the issue of airlines not accommodating passengers with disabilities is widespread and poses a risk to their safety and dignity. Airlines, not just WestJet, are in dire need of proper standards and procedures to protect travelers with disabilities. She brought attention to the fact that passengers with disabilities are often treated as second-class citizens and face barriers that others do not. Ziv emphasized that these problems are both a human rights issue and a risk to passengers’ safety that airlines must address.

The Situation from WestJet’s Perspective

In response, WestJet apologized for the “handling failures” experienced by Morris-Probert. The company claimed to strive to provide a seamless travel experience for guests with medical equipment such as wheelchairs. However, according to the company, Cabo airport staff were unable to accommodate a bridge-operated gate as requested. Despite this explanation, Morris-Probert insists that she provided advanced notice of her disability and the airline’s failure to accommodate her remains unacceptable.

Concluding Thoughts

Sarah Morris-Probert’s experience with WestJet serves as a call to action for airlines, regulatory bodies, and the government to address the systemic issue of the lack of accommodation and respect for passengers with disabilities. It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure the safe and dignified travels of all individuals, regardless of their physical abilities. As we move forward in the 21st century, it is crucial to push for change and ensure that everyone has equal access and treatment in the realm of air travel.”


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