Guide dog barred from budget airline down under

by Darren Jamieson on December 5, 2009

A guide dog was prevented from boarding an Australian budget airline in a move which may have damaged the reputation of the firm internationally. Employees at Jetstar told a blind couple not to take the guide dog onboard. The decision, which seemed to go against the firm’s own policy, has caused a great deal of upset.

The incident was reported in The Daily Telegraph and happened in the city of Melbourne. Glen Bracegirdle and Kathryn Beaton were going through the usual security checks when Jetstar staff told Kathryn she could not take her loyal assistant dog on to the aeroplane even though Jetstar’s specific policy allows for people to take their guide dogs with them.

Prince, Kathryn’s Labrador guide dog, approached the desk when the incident developed. Allegedly, an angry official repeatedly and loudly said:

“No dogs, no dogs, no dogs.”

If this did indeed happen in the manner described, it seems to have been a major lapse in judgement. In the modern world, respect for disabled people is meant to be upheld as a matter of course. Firms that do not comply with respecting disabled people risk inflicting permanent damage to their reputation, as Orlando Cars of Bolton and Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital saw last year when they featured in several media reports for turning away guide dogs.

The blind couple did board an alternative flight and have received an apology from Jetstar (which is linked to Qantas), but intend to take the fight for their human rights to a higher level. They were appalled at their treatment (and Prince’s treatment) and do not intend to let this infringement of their liberties to go unpunished.

In the UK last year it was announced that guide dogs could fly from more airports and further airports worldwide are set to adapt check-in procedures to allow more guide dogs.

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