Para-athlete denied use of toilet

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 has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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