The news from Malaysia is that AirAsia is pioneering new depths of discriminatory behavior. While using the slogan "Now Everyone Can Fly," Air Asia has a policy of refusing to sell seats to anyone who may require boarding assistance. Apparently, Air Asia uses old fashioned steps on the tarmac instead of jetways. I can see that, in less developed regions, jetways may not be feasible immediately. But not being able to get on a plane without help shouldn't mean not having to fly at all or, as AirAsia suggests, paying for and bringing along your own care provider.
AirAsia comsiders anyone who can't climb stairs to be "completely immobile." That is ridiculous. I can't get up and down stairs easily (Yeah, I can do it, if no one has anywhere to go the rest of the day) and I can't even traverse a jetway under my own power in the seconds set aside for boarding. But I am not completely immobile. I can even mow my own lawn, in small sections over several days. But apparently I couldn't fly AirAsia. Most people with disabilities are not "completely immobile," but AirAsia is doing its level best to redefine "needs a bit of help" to mean "cemented in place." Way to exemplify the social model of disability!
Fortunately, Malaysia's Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) is fighting the discrimination, pointing out that AirAsia's rules keep pregnant women and senior citizens, as well as people with mobility impairments, from being able to fly AirAsia. Best of luck, BEAT!
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