Team GB Paralympian Forced To ‘Drag Herself’ Off Qatar Airways Flight
A Team GB Paralympian has said she was forced to drag herself from a Qatar Airways flight after being left on board.
Athlete Claire Harvey had been returning from the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha with a shoulder injury.
But she was forced to use chairs like “monkey bars” to reach the exit after landing, she said.
The airline told Radio 4’s You and Yours it was investigating.
Ms Harvey, who switched to track and field from sitting volleyball, had been competing in the discus and javelin at the games before the flight on 30 October.
She said the plan was to rest her shoulder and recover ahead of Rio 2016 qualifications.
Ms Harvey said she was seated next to the aisle rather than the window – which meant other passengers had to clamber over her to move around the cabin.
After landing, she was left on the plane for 15 minutes after other travellers left, before a steward told her to get off.
Ms Harvey said she pointed out the lack of an aisle wheelchair, and asked “how do you expect me to do that?”
“He started to manhandle me and said I had to get to the front of the plane, bearing in mind I was 49 rows back,” she said.
“I was dragging myself to the front of the plane with him behind me pushing me to go faster.”
Once off the plane, Ms Harvey’s wheelchair was waiting for her, but the brakes were damaged and the frame bent.
She has since been in contact with the airline to pursue repairs.
Before the flight, Ms Harvey said she heard staff talking about getting “the wheelchair” on board – a term she eventually realised referred to her. “I’m very independent and I’m used to travelling.
“If I was someone who was nervous or was travelling for the first time on my own as a disabled person it would have been a horrendous experience.”
The airline told Radio 4 it was proud to have been the official carrier for the 2015 championships, and had transported more than 1,000 athletes to and from the games, as well as running a campaign to promote the event.
It said cabin crew were properly trained to provide appropriate assistance to passengers with disabilities and would respond to Ms Harvey after its investigation.