Ok, tweeps settle back for a long thread. The airline industry, including airports, has thumbed their noses at the Disability Discrimination Act and the Transport Standards for 20 years. I’ve had enough, and my inner loose unit is out of the box.
Ms Ros Croucher, President Australian Human Rights Commission I wish to lodge a complaint under the DDA and the Disability Transport Standards. It is lodged against the Federal Dept of Transport, Virgin Airlines, Adelaide Airport and the company which provides security clearance services at that airport. On 13 May 2022, I sought to clear security around 4 PM to catch my Virgin flight to where I live near Gold Coast Airport. My colleague G was with me and observed what took place.
I am publishing this on Twitter because it is now in the public domain, so it will be much harder and less relevant to settle through a confidentiality clause in an agreement. I want this in the public arena.
There were few people in line, but at least ten rows of switchbacks, which my guide dog finds tricky, so we chose the premium lane. We offered those in the line ready to go first, but they told us to go ahead. This lane was the only one with a body scanner, not an x-ray.
We put bags and metal on the belt and walked to the scanner. The male security guard said aggressively you can’t come through this lane with the dog. I explained that at GC airport where I live there are only body scanners, and I do it every time I travel – regularly. He refused I explained I would sit the dog, be scanned, and call her through. She would trigger, I would not, and she gets pat-down. She loves, I do not. Again refused. I tried once more, and G said the guard had turned his back on me. How insulting and disempowering to someone who cannot see.
This has happened to me many times before, including being physically pushed backwards in Darwin, and I was completely triggered. I felt sicker in the stomach than I usually do when I go to airports, and my heart rate increased significantly. I was sweating.
G was appalled at my treatment. We decided to give in, and go to the other lane. This made me feel worse, as I knew what was happening to me was discriminatory and unacceptable.
I sat my dog before the x-ray and went through it without setting it off. The whole time the guard, or a different one, was saying I could not come through that way. I called the dog through and she triggered the scanner.
The guard said I had to be patted down, even though I had not triggered the scanner. G, who could see, waved over the supervisor called Andrew who asked the guard if I had triggered. Guard said no. If G had not been there I think the guard’s answer would be different.
I forgot to say that when I told the first guard that I used body scanners like this all over the country he just said Not In Adelaide!
Andrew then said only dog to be patted down and we got through. I felt incredibly stressed, humiliated and overwhelmed. G walked to the Virgin lounge where staff saw my distress and treated me very well.
Geoff is right – I want policy change and more respect and flexibility for people just trying to comply with the Security process the way everyone else does. I do not want a separate system. Want this one to treat us equally.
I also want $5000 compensation to a charity of my choice. Apologies made are meaningless platitudes – I want real change. I am happy to try conciliation, but will not settle for less.
I am ready to go to court if necessary. This is not the worst discrimination that occurs and is not about me, it’s for all disabled people just wanting to live our lives. I’m angry as hell, and not going to take any more.
End of thread. The Loose unit is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back until organisations, through their actions, and change in attitude, treat us equally in our own community.
There are stacks of ways airlines do not include us! I’ll list a few. Making us board first and get off last. Sure if you want to, but that should be our choice.
Inaccessible in-flight entertainment systems! No captions or audio descriptions on movies! No onboard wheelchairs so peeps can go to the toilet.
So few meet and assist staff that we have inordinately long waits, and are treated as second class citizens. Only two wheelchair users on an aircraft. Many Many more.
But my favourite! Building portable ramps rather than stairs at airports with no aerobridge which are so steep and not load-bearing to take wheelchair users. IT’s AN f…ing RAMP FOR GOD SAKE!
Let’s not make nice. Let’s lodge discrimination complaints, let’s tell our peak advocacy bodies, let’s say these things in the review of the transport Standards. Our right to equal freedom of movement is fundamental.
In fact, if airlines have lost or broken our wheelchairs, let’s just sit on the bloody plane till they find or fix it! Let’s all be Loose Units!