Japanese Airline Forces Disabled Passenger to Crawl up Stairs to Board Plane

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A Japanese airline is under fire after allegedly forcing a disabled man to crawl up a flight of stairs to board his plane, The Guardian reports.

Hideto Kijima, who is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair, was boarding a flight to Osaka on budget airline Vanilla Air when he learned before the flight that the plane was not equipped with lifts for disabled passengers.

Staff refused to allow Kijima's friends to carry him on board, so the 44-year-old pulled himself up the 17 steps to the plane door, although staff initially attempted to stop him.

Kijima noted that he has used 200 airports in 158 countries, but this was the first time he had been refused help in boarding a plane.

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“I just had to ignore them and keep moving up, or I would not have been able to return to Osaka,” Kijima, who is the head of the non-profit Japan Accessible Tourism Centre, wrote on his blog.

At the top of the stairs, a staff member was waiting with his wheelchair to bring Kijima to his seat.

“I’ve never thought I would be refused to fly for not being able to walk,” he said. “It’s a human rights violation.”

The airline, which is owned by All Nippon Airways, issued an apology after Kijima complained to the transport ministry.

“We apologised to him for the unpleasant experience,” Vanilla spokesman Akihiro Ishikawa said. “We also explained that we are taking measures to improve our service.”

Photo Credit: Twitter / @airlivenet

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