Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Hideto Kijima lost the use of his legs when he was 17.
27 years later, he’s now the head Japan Accessible Tourism Center in Toyonaka.
However, on a recent flight from Amami Oshima Island to Osaka, he was given the sort of access that some might describe as inhuman.
It so happened that the only way to get on the plane was up steps from the tarmac.
Kijima has to use a wheelchair.
You might expect, then, that the airline and/or the airport would have staff who would carry him and his wheelchair onto the plane.
You might also expect that basil grows on ceilings.
It seems that the airline wouldn’t even let his five traveling companions carry him, as they had on the outward journey from Osaka.
Instead, as Kijima described in a Facebook post, Vanilla Air staff made him crawl up the steps. Yes, using only his hands to pull himself up to the top.
It took, he said, four minutes. While everyone stood and watched.
Why might this have happened? For the same reason that so many recent incidents involving airlines have occurred — rules and regulations.
Carrying Kijima up the steps would have been against company policy.
There’s little more glorious than airline rules. They only become exposed, when stories such as Oshima’s enter the media’s glare.
Indeed, Vanilla Air apologized. In a manner of speaking, that is.
“In the course of exchanges, the customer ended up going up the steps by himself, and airport staff could do nothing but just watch,” Vanilla Air spokesman Akihito Matsubara told the Asahi Shimbun.
They could do nothing but watch? They could, for example, have helped.
“Boarding in this fashion should never have taken place, and that was not what we had intended,” continued Matsubara. (Vanilla Air is a low-cost airline, owned by ANA.)
It seems exactly what the airline had intended. Kijima said that some employees even tried to stop him from crawling up, as they said even that was against the rules.
“I had never been denied boarding just because of my inability to walk,” Kijima told the Asahi Shimbun.
Some might think they’ve never heard a story of able-bodied people standing around, while a disabled man was forced to crawl up a staircase.
With airlines, however, new occurrences seem to appear all the time.
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