Nikki Emerson endured a horror flight.
Nikki Emerson endured a horror flight.

Airline’s shocking treatment of disabled woman

BRITISH  wheelchair racer Nikki Emerson says she was forced to wait to go to the toilet on a flight because airline staff told the para-athlete other passengers may be upset at seeing her "climbing on the floor".

The 29-year-old was on an Emirates flight heading to the Gold Coast, where she will compete in the T54 1500m and marathon events, and was told her behaviour was "unacceptable" when she tried to go to the toilet on her own.

Instead, Emerson was told to wait until after food and drinks service before a staffer could help.

"I don't think it's acceptable that I should have to go to the bathroom on someone else's schedule," Emerson told BBC Radio..

"That seems like quite a basic right.

"There was an air stewardess waiting outside for me when I came out to tell me this wasn't OK.

"She said, 'You can't be on the floor, it'll upset people, let me help you to walk' and I said, 'Well I can't walk at all' and that obviously caused an issue. I think the stewardesses felt it would make people uncomfortable to see someone climbing on the floor.

"In my mind, the only reason that should make the other passengers uncomfortable is because it would show them that the airline that they are travelling with doesn't have adequate provisions for disabled people, but I don't know if that was what the air stewardess was concerned about.

"As a disabled person that travels a lot I'm relaxed about doing it. It looks quite shocking when people see it but for me it's a way I can independently get myself somewhere when I don't have my wheelchair."

"I'm very independent - then when I travel someone takes my passport and I'm told I can't get myself around the plane. All of a sudden it becomes quite different to the rest of my life - I don't look forward to flying."