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‘We were left completely alone, I couldn’t find anyone at all,’ says wife of man living with severe spinal cord damage.
Snaking queues, cancelled flights and lost suitcases have been the story of air travel this year, but passengers with disabilities say they are falling through the cracks of the current wave of chaos at Australian airports, with some saying they feel humiliated as they’re forced to stand or sit on the floor waiting for wheelchairs.
Simon, who has severe spinal cord damage and nerve pain, had been travelling with his Australian wife Maisie and daughter Lucy for more than 24 hours when they arrived at Sydney airport in early June.
When his flight landed at Sydney airport shortly after 8pm, Simon says he and other passengers with reduced mobility waiting for assistance in the air bridge were told there were no wheelchairs immediately available. Instead, they were told those who were able to should walk through to the terminal where a buggy would transport them to customs.
Given the severity of his disability, Simon was unable to walk to the buggy, so he and one other traveller were left to wait inside the airbridge.
“Once we left the plane door, we were just stuck there, there wasn’t even a chair to sit on, so we had to sit on the floor while Simon stood,” Maisie said.
There were no workers available to provide any information, and the family became worried when they saw the cabin crew leave the plane and walk past them through the airbridge.