Jetstar Asia Nosedives On Accessibility

In April this year, we posted an article about Dr Rupa Chandrashekar’s experience as a Jetstar Asia customer with a disability.

Since then, the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) had reached out to Jetstar Asia to further understand their protocols when it came to assisting passengers with a disability. Here is Jetstar Asia’s response to DPA’s initial inquiry:

Jetstar Asia’s Official Statement

Dear Dr Medjeral-Mills,

Thank you for contacting Jetstar Asia on behalf of Dr Chandrashekar. I’m sincerely sorry for the delay in responding.

Jetstar Asia’s mobility and wheelchair practices

 Jetstar Asia provides point to point air travel at a very low cost. It is only able to offer low fares because of its operational arrangements including very short turnaround times (ie the time when aircraft are on the ground and not flying), staffing levels (ie limited crew members and same team crewing) and airport arrangements.

These operational arrangements mean that Jetstar Asia is able to provide limited assistance, including to passengers requiring wheelchair assistance.

You can find more details about the Mobility and wheelchair assistance Jetstar Asia provides on our website at: https://www.jetstar.com/sg/en/help/articles/mobility-assistance-and-torso-restraints.

Dr Chandrashekar’s experience

For privacy reasons we are not at liberty to disclose specific information regarding Dr Chandrashekar’s booking or the circumstances of this case. However, I can confirm that Jetstar Asia has been in contact with Dr Chandrashekar directly regarding her experience on 1 January 2018.

Thank you again for contacting Jetstar Asia on behalf of Dr Chandrashekar.

Yours sincerely,

Joanne – Jetstar Specific Assistance Coordinator

Having brushed off any responsibility for the lack of customer service, here is DPA’s counter response to what we think about their official position:

DPA’s Response:

Dear Joanne,

Thank you for getting back to me. However, given that I first emailed Jetstar on 1 February 2018 it has taken a far too long to respond. I tried to contact Jetstar twice regarding this issue and in the meantime DPA has published a blog on the poor communication and customer service that Dr Chandrashekar received from Jetstar.

See: https://disabledpeoplesassociation.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/travelling-with-a-disability-on-jetstar-asia/

DPA aims to publish stories that incorporate both side of story, but seeing as Jetstar took so long to reply DPA was unable to include Jetstar reponses. We will now include your email response and update the blog post.

Having seen your email I am surprised that this is Jetstar’s official response to accommodating the needs of passengers needing wheelchair assistance. I am also aware that you have been in touch with Dr Chandrashekar as has been updating us on the whole incident. Your responses have neither taken responsibility for the lacking customer service she experienced on the day of the incident nor for the follow up communications.

The airline industry has problems in providing adequate service for the growing accessible tourism market and some are making great strides in working on those issues. In Jetstar’s case the first step would be acknowledging the gaps and at least trying to figure out what can be done, rather than just citing your existing mobility assistance policy.

Citing the fact that Jetstar is a low cost airline and has short turnaround times as an excuse for not being able to provide more than limited assistance to passengers with disabilities ignores the fact that other airlines, including low cost ones, have figured out how to provide assistance (not perfectly, but have at least tried and had some measure of success. Does Jetstar think that only persons with disabilities that are willing/able to pay for traditional airlines should have their choices accommodated?

There are no real security or operation reasons for denying someone’s request for their wheelchair to meet them when they disembark from a plane and not go to baggage claim. In fact,  Philippines Airlines was able to comply with her request. I am aware Philippines Airlines is not a low cost airline like Jetstar, but they were able to look into Dr Chandrashekar and find a way to make it happen, as opposed to shutting her down immediately and kicking her off the flight with no more assistance.

Thank you for sharing Jetstar’s position, it is very helpful for DPA to update our list of airlines we can recommend to tourists/travelers with disabilities and those that we do not recommend they use.

Thanks,

Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills

Executive Director

So there you go. Guess it’s time to reconsider if you really want to plan your travels based on Jetstar Asia’s “limited assistance…to passengers requiring wheelchair assistance”.

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