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Emirates ‘told para-athlete not to crawl to toilet’

April 9, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

A wheelchair-bound Commonwealth Games athlete from England, flying Emirates to Australia to compete on the Gold Coast, was told to wait an hour in her seat for help to go to the toilet in case passengers grew upset at the sight of her “climbing on the floor” to get there herself.

Nikki Emerson, 29, is due to compete for England tomorrow in the Commonwealth Games T54 1500 metres and marathon events. T54 is a disability sport classification in the track and jump events.

Emerson told BBC Radio 5 that Emirates cabin crew informed her she would have to wait until the food and drink service ended before someone could help her go to the bathroom.

When she tried to reach the toilet by herself, by climbing on the floor, she was told her behaviour was “unacceptable”.

“There was an air stewardess waiting outside for me when I came out to tell me this wasn’t OK,” Emerson told the British broadcaster.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable that I should have to go to the bathroom on someone else’s schedule,” Emerson said.

“That seems like quite a basic right.”

Emerson said a senior member of Emirates staff had apologised to her afterwards. She added that the airline was looking into the matter.

“I think the stewardesses felt it would make people uncomfortable to see someone climbing on the floor,” Emerson said.

“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 that 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.”

Emerson told the BBC she was very independent and had struck problems before with airports and airlines so “this isn’t a one-airline specific thing”.

However she admitted she didn’t look forward to flying. After the radio report, BBC Sport said it had contacted Emirates and was awaiting a response.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. How disgusting! We have pulled all references and press releases.

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