Published on : Thursday, June 29, 2017
Hideto Kijima, 44, was catching a flight from Amami, an island to the south of Japan, when he learnt the airline provided no accessible way of boarding the flight.
Kijima, who is paralysed from the waist down after injuring his spine playing rugby, was informed by the staff that company rules prevented his friends from carrying him and initially tried to stop him pulling himself up.
Kijima, unable to find any other option dragged himself up the stairs to the plane while friends pushed him from behind. In a statement, he said that there was no option but to keep moving up, or else he would not be able to return to Osaka.
Kijima heads up Japan Accessible Tourism Centre, a not-for-profit watchdog that looks out for the rights of disabled passengers. Writing about his experience in a blog post, he said that while he had had difficulty at airports, he’d never been told he could not board a plane.
Vanilla Air, which is owned by All Nippon Airways, apologised for the incident. The airline promised that from now on they would have arrangements in place for disabled passengers at all airports they use.