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Air New Zealand bans disabled passengers from all flights

The sky is no place for the physically or mentally challenged, says Air New Zealand.

The sky is no place for the physically or mentally challenged, says Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has today announced a policy that will bar disabled passengers from being able to book tickets on both domestic and international flights, in order to help prevent future inconvenience to normal, human passengers.

The decision follows an incident earlier this week on a flight from Auckland to Wellington, in which an Air New Zealand gold elite passenger was humiliated when she was asked to leave her seat for the benefit of a wheelchair-bound woman who could not conveniently move to another one.

Air New Zealand has since apologised to that gold elite passenger and had a stern word with the disabled woman, 39-year-old Tanya Black. Ms. Black has subsequently appeared on TV One’s Seven Sharp to apologise for her behaviour, but it has done little to quell public outrage over the incident.

In response to that outrage, the airline held a press conference this morning to announce a new policy on the disabled.

“Air New Zealand would like to announce this morning that it is no longer allowing physically or mentally disabled passengers on any of our domestic or international flights,” said chief executive Christopher Luxon. “What happened to our gold elite passenger earlier this week was unacceptable. No customer should be forced to endure a lengthy one hour flight, including taxiing to and from the gate, in a seat with a different arbitrary number and slightly varied location to the one they booked; and certainly not for the benefit of a cripple.”

The announcement has so far been well received by the public, as well as frequent fliers like traveling businessman Jarrod Shaw, who himself is a gold elite member.

“I’m really glad Air New Zealand has had the courage to take these steps,” he said. “When I first saw what happened on the news, I said to myself ‘Woah, that could’ve been me.’”

The company has said it will be taking extensive security measures to prevent any disabled passengers getting on their planes, and will not hesitate to forcibly handle paraplegics who try to pretend they can walk.

Luxon said that Air New Zealand would not rule out establishing disabled-only routes, and said they could have some running between select cities in the near future.

“It probably wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience for us,” he said. “We’d just use some old cargo planes we’ve got lying around.”