Natalie Curtis: Disabled woman forced to crawl out of plane after she was denied wheelchair

When Curtis arrived in Thailand, she was informed that she would have to pay to use another wheelchair to exit the plane after being provided one in Singapore

Natalie Curtis: Disabled woman forced to crawl out of plane after she was denied  wheelchair
Natalie Curtis stated that she had the 'most humiliating experience' when she had to crawl down a Jetstar airplane in Bangkok, Thailand (Natalie Curtis and Natasha Elford/Facebook)
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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: A disabled Australian woman, who was forced to crawl off a plane after the crew didn't allow her to use a wheelchair for free, described it as the "most humiliating experience" of her life. The incident involved Queenslander Natalie Curtis, who was traveling on Jetstar, a low-cost Australian airline, from Townsville to Bangkok with a stopover in Singapore.

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When Curtis arrived in Thailand, she was informed that she would have to pay to use another wheelchair to exit the plane after being provided a conventional aisle wheelchair in Singapore. Curtis refused, claiming that it was the first time she had ever been asked to pay and that she had no choice but to exit the plane by crawling down the aisle, according to the New York Post. “When we arrived, (staff) were asking us to actually pay and I didn’t really comprehend it, and I’m like ‘No, I’m not paying to be able to get off this plane,’” she told Sunrise. “They all just sat around for a while and the option that was left was for me to get on the floor and crawl," Curtis added.

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Curtis stated that the incident might have been caused by a language barrier between her and the airline staff. Natasha Elford, who witnessed her friend crawling down the aisle while traveling with her, said she wanted to carry the woman herself but was unable to do so because of a knee injury. “I just felt really sorry for Natalie ... I just felt really hopeless and I’m like, ‘I just can’t believe this is really happening,’” Elford said. “(Staff) did obviously try to offer to lift her up and carry her, but if they dropped her (Curtis) that would (have been) 10 times worse,” she added.

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According to 7NEWS, the airline staff were reportedly told that an aisle wheelchair wouldn't be available for at least 40 minutes after the plane touched down in Bangkok. According to the report, Curtis carried her own wheelchair on the aircraft, but it was too large to fit in the cabin.

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A Jetstar representative disputed that the company had asked for cash to use a chair. “We unreservedly apologize to Ms Curtis for her recent experience while traveling with us,” the spokesperson told 7NEWS. “We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable travel experience for all our customers, including those requiring specific assistance,” the rep said. “Regrettably, this was not the case for Ms Curtis following a miscommunication that resulted in the delay of an aisle chair being made available at the gate on arrival and we are looking into what happened as a matter of urgency,” the spokesperson added.

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Curtis claimed on Facebook that her flight with Jetstar was "definitely the most humiliating experience I have had traveling," despite the airline having offered her a refund and other compensation. She told 7NEWS, “I definitely don’t want anyone else to go through what I had to go through.” 

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