A British Paralympic athlete claims she was referred to as "the wheelchair" and manhandled by the Qatar Airways flight staff while returning from the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha.
Claire Harvey, who was competing in the discus and javelin games, was traveling to rest her injured shoulder, but her “humiliating” experience on the plane on Oct. 30 added to the physical — as well as emotional — pain.
She told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours how she was given an aisle seat instead of a window seat, forcing a situation where people had to “literally had to climb over” over her to use the toilet.
The situation became worse when she had to exit the jet.
Harvey had to wait for almost 15 minutes for her wheelchair when she was told she had to get off without it.
“A steward said ‘You have to leave now’ and started to manhandle me. I was 49 rows back. I ended up having to utilize the seats either side of the aisle almost like monkey bars, taking my weight on my hands and dragging myself to the front, with him pushing me to go faster,’’ she added.
Her ordeal did not end there. After getting off the plane, Harvey discovered her wheelchair’s brakes were damaged and the frame bent.
"I'm very independent and I'm used to traveling. If I was someone who was nervous or was traveling for the first time on my own as a disabled person it would have been a horrendous experience," she added.
Qatar Airways, which happens to be the official airline of the Paralympic World Championships, told the BBC they are currently investigating Harvey’s claims and would respond to her complaints soon.