Disabled woman forced to drag herself to plane toilet told she should ‘wear a nappy’

Airline passenger called the comment ‘astounding’ and ‘absurd’

Ella Doyle
Monday 10 October 2022 16:09 BST
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Jennie Berry posted a TikTok video about the incident
Jennie Berry posted a TikTok video about the incident (wheelie_good_life/TikTok)

A wheelchair user who went viral after she had to drag herself to the toilet on a plane has claimed the airline told her she should have worn a nappy.

Jennie Berry, who is paralysed from the waist down, went viral last month after she posted a video of her experience with AlbaStar airlines.

She had asked to use the toilet on an AlbaStar flight from Newcastle to Palma, Spain, but said she was told there was no aisle chair on board.

The resulting TikTok video showed Jennie dragging herself along the aisle floor to the bathroom. Her partner then helped her onto the toilet.

After the video went viral, AlbaStar apologised for the incident, but Jennie has now said in a TV interview that a member of the airline’s cabin crew told her she should have worn a nappy on the flight.

In an interview with Ben Shephard and Kate Garroway on Good Morning Britain, Mr Shephard asked: “What was your reaction when the stewardess on board suggested that people that usually travel that are disabled wear a nappy?”

Ms Berry responded: “Again, another astounding comment to make, which is just absurd.

“I don’t need to wear a nappy and to just have that kind of response as opposed to - you know, I wasn’t asking anyone to carry me, I don’t expect to be carried.

“I know that that isn’t in their remit to do so. I was just expecting a bit of empathy, help clearing the aisle and just problem solving in a scenario where we’re in the middle of the air, there’s no aisle chair onboard, what do we do now?

“And there was none of it. I think they were infuriated because I was stopping their drinks trolley.”

She added: “[AlbaStar’s] current policy is that my partner should’ve dragged me from behind with my feet trailing or carried me - nevermind that I’m six foot tall; I can’t be carried in that narrow gap.

The TikTok quickly went viral as many viewers were outraged
The TikTok quickly went viral as many viewers were outraged (@wheelie_good_life/Jennie Berry)

“That would probably be more painful for that to have to happen, take longer, cause more of a scene.”

Ben Shephard, who was interviewing her on the show, asked: “And that would be more dignified? It seems extraordinary that that would be their key points.”

She replied: “There’s a lot to digest there, a lot of key points there where it’s just astounding that that’s the response we’re given here, as opposed to just simply providing access.”

AlbaStar told The Independent: “Neither Albastar nor TUI were aware that Ms. Berry required special assistance as the passenger did not request it at the time of booking, nor prior to her flight. Should Ms. Berry had informed the carrier in advance, Albastar would have accommodated the passenger on a flight with aisle chair on board.

“At all times Albastar complied with EASA regulations, which do not require airlines to carry aisle chairs unless required by passengers with reduced mobility in advance. Our cabin crew offered Ms. Berry assistance and followed correct protocols as per official trainings outline.

“We take this event very seriously, and as a result, Albastar will carry aisle chairs on all flights in the future. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to Ms. Berry and reaffirm that our number one priority is the safety and comfort of all our passengers on each and every flight we operate.”

Ms Berry added: “I’m a disabled traveller who travels a lot. Everything that I do in life is planned in advance.

“It’s frustrating that they’re kind of turning it around as if it’s my fault, when in actual fact their policy states, they do not have an aisle chair onboard and they don’t have the provisions to have an aisle chair onboard.”

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