A Qantas passenger was “embarrassed” and had to crawl to her seat when airline staff dropped her from her wheelchair as she was boarding a flight home.
Nikita Bennett, who has cerebral palsy, was also made to wait for half an hour to be provided with a wheelchair despite Qantas being warned of her requirements in advance.
Ms Bennett said as she was boarding after the delay, she was dropped by an airline worker.
“He kind of pulled quite hard and the chair came out from underneath me, and I basically collapsed on top of myself,” she told 7 News.
“It was embarrassing, it was done in front of a whole plane of people.”
The shocking incident happened on Tuesday on-board a connecting flight from Melbourne to Mildura, where Ms Bennett lives.
A Qantas spokesperson told NCA NewsWire that staff had delayed the flight by more than half an hour to accommodate Ms Bennett’s connection and said despite the delay wheelchairs were available for her at every step of the journey.
“Our team in Melbourne delayed the flight from Melbourne to Mildura to ensure Ms Bennett was able to get home,” the spokesperson added in a statement.
“Unfortunately, while she was being helped to her seat, Ms Bennett had fallen out of the wheelchair. Our team on-board the flight were obviously distressed about the situation, apologised and offered to help her to her seat which she declined.
“We regularly carry customers with disabilities and have arrangements in place to ensure they have a smooth journey. We’ve reached out to Ms Bennett to apologise for her experience.”
The incident is the latest bad news for the embattled national airline, with chief executive Alan Joyce heading for the emergency exit from his role two months early amid a string of scandals.
The airline is facing a series of damaging allegations, including advertising tickets for flights that had already been cancelled and misleading customers about refund options and flight credits.
Qantas recently reported a $2.47bn pre-tax profit for the 2022-23 financial year.