A disabled woman was discriminated against by staff of Africa World Airlines Limited (AWA) at the Kotoka International Airport because they said her crutches she uses were an inconvenience to the Airline.
“5th May 2018 is a day I will never forget in my life. I went to a US government-sponsored program called Young Africa leaders initiative (YALI) at GIMPA, Accra. After the program, I have to travel to Kumasi for a very important meeting at 10:00.”
Rita who works at the Department of Social Welfare and also runs an NGO called the Disabled Child and Youth Foundation, was going for a meeting relating to her NGO.
She said that she woke up early at dawn so she could get to the airport early.
“When I got there my passport was checked and I was told to sit and wait till 7:00.”
Some of her YALI colleagues arrived at the airport few minutes to the boarding time.
“When it was time to start my journey I was told I can't send my crutches inside the plane. I am also a person with disability I can't walk without my crutches and I was told aids are not allowed. So I was denied access to the plane because I was a person with disability.”
She said she then asked them if they could help her to her seat while they keep her crutches elsewhere in the plane.
“They told me that my crutches cannot just be on the plane and that there are no aides allowed. That is what I was told. My friends wanted to talk to them but they were just refusing to talk to anyone. My agent also called to talk to them but they refused to talk to her. So at the end of the day, my three friends went on the plane, left to Kumasi and left me behind.”
“Don't I have the right to take a flight in my own country just because I am a person with disability when will this discrimination stop?” Rita asked.
After the incident, AWA has not refunded the money for the ticket and Rita said she has not heard from the airline.
Meanwhile, on the company’s website, it states that customers with disabilities are allowed Pre-boarding to find a suitable seat, though they are not allowed to sit at the emergency exit rows.
The airline also indicates that it transports wheelchairs and other assistance devices for personal use at no charge, and offers enplaning and deplaning when the issue has been raised during ticket purchase.