Kenyan wheelchair user 'abandoned' by Ethiopian Airlines at JKIA

A Kenyan wheelchair user has accused Ethiopian Airlines staff of refusing to help him board a flight leaving Nairobi to the US.

In a series of tweets and Facebook posts, author and disability rights campaigner Harun Hassan said he was treated “insensitively”.

He said one member of staff impolitely told him: “Please, we don’t have a provision for a disabled person who is travelling alone.”

Mr Hassan said that his ticket clearly indicated that he was a wheelchair user who was travelling on his own.

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“They left me alone and stranded without any options,” he tweeted.

“This clearly goes against the policies and guidelines of Kenya Airports Authority and other international disability travelling laws that this airline subscribes to.”

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About 10 hours after he had posted his comments, the airline reached out to him, apologised and offered him a business class flight.

In return, he said Ethiopian Airlines wanted him to pull down his Twitter and Facebook posts about the incident.

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He declined to do so, saying he would “rather fly economy with respect and dignity” than in the “knee-jerk inspired comfort” of business class.

Hassan said he had opted to travel on another airline to go to Washington DC.

The campaigner said this was the first time he had posted publicly about the “injustices” he often faced.

“Literally every day I do encounter challenges and discrimination — some more painful than this. However, this post and this ‘hard’ stand is about millions of others who are treated differently because their ‘appearance’ is different from us.”

Hsssan said he had acted to create a more inclusive society for everyone, including the disabled.

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“An inclusive world is a better world for all.”

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