Jennie Berry had to drag herself through the aisle on a recent flight. (Photo: Jennie Berry)
A disability campaigner was forced to drag herself along the floor on a recent flight, because staff provided “no provisions” for wheelchair users to access the bathroom.
Jennie Berry, from Hartlepool, is paralysed from the waist down and was recently booked to travel from Newcastle Airport to Palma with TUI.
Unfortunately, the TUI flight was automatically transferred to Spanish airline AlbaStar and staff told Berry they were unable to give her a seat towards the front of the plane, where she’d have easier access to the toilet.
They also did not have an aisle chair on the flight. This is available on most aircrafts and is “a small narrow wheelchair that assists disabled people to their seat when boarding a plane and needing to use toilet facilities”, Berry explained.
“I asked to go to the toilet and they just said ‘no we don’t have an aisle chair onboard’, with no suggestions of what I was to do,” she added on Instagram.
“As you all know – when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go – so thankfully as I have good upper body strength I proceeded to drag myself down the aisle towards the toilet, whilst staff continued to serve drinks.
“Once I reached the toilet, staff told me that ‘disabled people should wear nappies on board’ ???? Apparently that’s their solution – to ask disabled passengers to pee in their seats.”
Berry’s Instagram post has been liked more than 34,000 times, with thousands of people – including some celebs – calling out the poor customer service.
“This is so unacceptable,” said actor and Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis. “I’m sorry this have happened to you. It is so frustrating to see that attitude still happening. I hope you’re okay.”
Sophie Hinchcliffe, aka Mrs Hinch, added: “This is just absolutely unacceptable! And to continue serving drinks and refuse to help you had angered me and I’m sure thousands of others! I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this. I’ve watched it so many times and get more angry each time!”
Berry has since launched a petition, calling for all flights to have aisle chairs for disabled travellers. It’s already gained more than 11,000 signatures.
“At present, there is no regulation for aisle chairs to be mandatory on flights, with some airlines suggesting that disabled people should be carried or dragged to the toilet,” she said. “This is painful, humiliating, dehumanising and sometimes simply not possible. I have shared my story with thousands online, in a bid to hopefully change this.”
In a statement given to ITV News, a spokesperson for Albastar said: “Albastar would like to express its sincere apologies for the event that recently took place on one of our flights in relation to the flight experience of a passenger with reduced mobility.
“Our main concern is the safety and comfort of all our passengers on each and every flight we operate. We are working to investigate the incident to ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again on any of our aircrafts.”
The company said was not told there would be a disabled passenger on board.
A spokesperson for TUI said: “We are really concerned to hear about Ms Berry’s experience on her flight to Palma as we take matters like this very seriously.
“While Ms Berry booked through TUI, the flight was operated by a third party airline. We are therefore investigating this incident as a matter of urgency with them.
“We are already in direct contact with Ms Berry and will continue to provide her any additional support she needs.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.