Amputee says she was 'discriminated against' on flight; SIA apologises, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Amputee says she was 'discriminated against' on flight; SIA apologises

This article is more than 12 months old

A student recently lamented about her experience on board a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight, when she said she was "discriminated against" for being an amputee. 

According to ABC News, 23-year-old Isabella Beale, a congenital amputee without a left forearm, was travelling to and from Europe with her family in January when she was singled out for sitting along the emergency exit row.

During her flight from Australia, Beale claimed that a staff member left her “feeling humiliated” in front of other passengers after asking her to get out of her seat in a "loud tone”. 

An SIA spokesman told ABC News that the airlines has since apologised for the “distress or embarrassment caused by the request (for her) to move”. 

One of SIA’s requirements for sitting along the emergency exit row, as listed on its website, is that occupants of the seat should be “fully able-bodied, and capable of opening and moving quickly or reaching and passing through the emergency exit doors”, and should be able to do so without “assistance”. 

Beale claimed she does not require any such assistance, reported ABC News.  

She added that though she had switched seats with her partner to be away from the emergency exit, she was then told to move the row behind, which she felt was “very humiliating and upsetting”. 

"I understand that there might be policy around this, I'm not saying I need you to sit me in emergency, I'm saying I need you to treat me like a human being," she said.

Return flight

On her return flight to Australia, Beale said she once again experienced discrimination from staff, even after she consulted with staff members at the check-in desk about where she could sit.

The check-in desk staff confirmed and reissued her ticket, which was still in the exit row of the plane.

"It was probably tenfold worse the second time around," she said.

Before the take-off, she said a woman came up to her demanding to see her ticket, while two air stewardesses and two ground staff looked on. 

When she was once again told she had to move, she asked why, and alleged that the manager pointed at her missing limb and said, “Well the problem is obvious,” and continued to repeat that in front of the entire flight. 

"I was really upset and hurt and felt like I was being vilified for my disability in front of all of these people, and they were all in a rush and all raising their voices and yelling."

While an SIA spokesman said that the crew was acting on a “potential safety issue”, the “interactions may have been rushed due to the time constraints of preparing the aircraft for departure”. 

The spokesman added that the staff have been given further customer training after the complaint.

Singapore Airlinescustomer complaintdiscriminatory