Emirates deny UK para-athlete use of toilet

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A wheelchair-bound UK athlete travelling from England to Australia was forced to wait an hour for the use of the toilet and told not to crawl in case it upset passengers.

The athlete, Nikki Emerson, was flying with Emirates to compete in the marathon and 1500m events on the Gold Coast earlier this week. During her flight, she needed to go to the toilet, but was told to wait until refreshments were served before someone could help her get to the bathroom.

So Ms Emerson tried to get there herself, and was told her behaviour was “unacceptable” and that the sight of her crawling to the toilet upset other passengers.

“There was an air stewardess waiting outside for me when I came out, to tell me this wasn’t okay,” Emerson told the BBC.

“I think the stewardess felt it would make people uncomfortable to see someone climbing on the floor.

“In my mind, the only reason that should make the other passengers uncomfortable is because it would show them that the airline that they are travelling with doesn’t have adequate provisions for disabled people, but I don’t know if that was what the air stewardess was concerned about.

“As a disabled person who travels a lot I’m relaxed about doing it. It looks quite shocking when people see it, but for me it’s a way I can independently get myself somewhere when I don’t have my wheelchair.”

“I don’t think it’s acceptable that I should have to go to the bathroom on someone else’s schedule. That seems like quite a basic right.”

Ms Emerson said that Emirates’ staff has since apologised and that the airline was looking into the matter.

Do you think this is unacceptable, or is it a fair call? Would seeing someone crawl to the toilet make you feel uncomfortable?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 4
  1. 0

    I would ask he/she if they needed some help, if I was nearby. That was a shocking decision on the part of the Stewardess AND the Airline.

  2. 0

    Wow. So many people would have helped her to the toilet. Really?

  3. 0

    Perhaps she didn’t want to be helped, just do it on her own worth out being harassed by airline staff.

  4. 0

    The airline would have known they had a wheelchair bound customer on board so should have spoken to her about her needs and their staff prior to take off. It is not always possible to ‘hang on’ when you need to go. Under the circumstances staff should have made sure the toilet and floor was as clean as possible before she entered and placed a large towel on the floor to accommodate her situation. She is a human being who should be allowed be as independent as possible. If others can’t accept it there is something wrong with them.



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