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.
“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
Overweight Man Says Spirit Airlines 'Embarrassed' Him on Overbooked Flight
Couple Alleges They Slept on Airport Floor After Alerting United Airlines to Fuel Leak
United Airlines Employee Attacks Elderly Man in Airport