A wheelchair user needed to go to the bathroom while aboard an airplane and had to drag herself to the toilet, video shows.
“Hi everyone, I’m Jennie. I’m a wheelchair user, and I’m paralyzed from the waist down,” Jennie Berry says in an Instagram video posted on Tuesday, Sept. 20. “I’ve recently been on holiday.”
Berry is a blogger who lives in London, England, and shares her “day to day life as a wheelchair user” on social media as “Wheelie Good Life,” her Instagram bio says.
Berry had a flight that was changed to AlbaStar Airline — a small Spanish airline that did not have an aisle chair, she wrote on Instagram. Airline staff told her “there wasn’t enough room for an aisle chair,” she says in the video.
When Berry boarded, “they wouldn’t let me sit anywhere near the front of the plane even though there were spare seats,” she says in the video.
When she asked if she could go to the bathroom, the staff told her “no” and “that they wouldn’t help,” Berry says in the video. Instead “they proceeded to just keep serving the drinks,” Berry says.
“When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, so this is what we had to do,” Berry says in the Instagram video.
“I proceeded to drag myself down the (aisle) towards the toilet,” she wrote. She filmed the experience, the drink cart visible in the aisle ahead of her.
“Once I reached the toilet, staff told me that ‘disabled people should wear nappies’ – diapers – on board.’ Apparently that’s their solution — to ask disabled passengers to pee in their seats,” Berry posted on Instagram.
“Life as a disabled person can sometimes be downright degrading and embarrassing,” Berry said, “and unfortunately, this was one of them times.”
AlbaStar Airlines told McClatchy News that it “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.”
As the video got attention on Instagram and Twitter, Berry spoke more about the experience in an Instagram story, which are automatically deleted after 24 hours.
The video ends after Berry’s partner helped lift her onto the toilet.
“When I came out of the toilet, a family — a man, a woman, and a very small baby — actually moved and offered up their seats so I could sit there so I didn’t have to be drug to the back,” Berry said in an Instagram story.
She also defended the other passengers on the flight, saying “there wasn’t a great deal that anyone on that flight could have done (to help).” The passengers offered “a lot of support” by “telling me to take my time and not to rush, and not to feel embarrassed,” Berry says in an Instagram story.
Berry said the experience — and sharing it publicly online — “is incredibly degrading and embarrassing for myself to have to go through.” Still, “I will do so in order for changes to happen,” she said in an Instagram story.
“I’m so glad I got video footage,” she said in her story. “I know it’s not something everyone wants to see, but without video footage like this, disabled people simply aren’t believed (about) how horrendously they’re treated in scenarios like this.
“I don’t want any money back for the flight, I could care less about that,” she says in another Instagram story. “What I want is to know that in future people don’t have to go through that same process that I did.”
The airline said that “aisle wheelchairs are not mandatory as per current regulation,” and the mobility aid is “not even recommended nor mentioned when talking about aircraft equipment/furnishing.”
The airline said that it “was never informed of the presence of a disabled passenger.”
“Our main concern is the safety and comfort of all our passengers on each and every flight we operate,” the statement said. “We are working to investigate the incident to ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again on any of our aircraft.”