Nightmare for disabled on mainland airlines

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2012, 12:00am


Mainland airlines treat disabled passengers with industry-wide discrimination, according to state media.

Such passengers have been overcharged, denied boarding or physically assaulted during air travel, China Central Television said in a report yesterday.

Zhu Lanying, who uses a wheelchair because of partial paralysis, told the broadcaster about a nightmarish experience with Chengdu Airlines in October when she booked a flight from Kunming, Yunnan province, to Chengdu in Sichuan, to attend a relative's funeral.

She was stopped at the gate because of her wheelchair and not allowed to board. 'I was told that I had to inform them about my wheelchair 72 hours before the flight,' Zhu said. 'But how could I foresee the death of my uncle 72 hours in advance?'

She said airline and airport staff forcibly removed her from the gate, and that she was beaten and pushed out of her wheelchair during the process, resulting in injuries that prompted her to sue the airline.

A district court in Kunming ruled in February that Zhu had not received necessary services, and the airline was ordered to pay her 2,000 yuan (HK$2,450) in compensation.

No one answered the phone yesterday in the South China Morning Post's attempts to obtain a comment from Chengdu Airlines.

Zhang Honglei, Zhu's lawyer, told CCTV that air authorities required disabled passengers to give airlines three days' notice about their conditions if they required an airline to provide special services such as a compact wheelchair.

'The regulation [by air authorities] is not made to limit a disabled person's right to fly but to provide them better service,' he said, explaining that the company had misinterpreted the regulation.

Common and questionable policies of mainland airlines include requiring that passengers with limited mobility receive official approval to travel from the airline's headquarters, that they must purchase tickets from selected agents and that they cannot book tickets online or by telephone. Some aren't given discounts afforded to passengers without disabilities.