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Battling the Lion from a Wheelchair

Handicapped Passenger Files Lawsuit Against Lion Air for Discrimination on a Jakarta to Bali Flight.

(7/2/2011) A handicapped traveler has filed a lawsuit against Indonesian low-cost carrier Lion Air for alleged discriminatory treatment he suffered on a recent flight between Jakarta and Bali.

According to The Jakarta Globe, Ridwan Sumantri has filed suit in the Jakarta District Court for his treatment on a April11 flight to Bali. Ridwan, who is wheelchair bound, claims that as a passenger on Lion Air  he was refused a seat near the aircraft door; compelled to be carried to a seat in the middle section of the aircraft; and required to sign a declaration saying he would bear responsibility if he spread a disease to other passengers on the flight.

Coming to Sumantri’s defense, Kami Martono, an aviation law expert at Tarumanagara University, said: “The law already accommodates the needs of disabled people, including their need to have special facilities. There should never be any discrimination.”

A 2009 aviation law requires airlines and airport accommodate the handicapped, ill, elderly and under-aged passengers by providing special services and facilities, including the provision of special services to assist these individuals traveling by air.

Dudi Sudibyo, a leading aviation industry journalist, welcomed the lawsuit saying: 

“I am quite happy that someone filed a lawsuit about this because there is still no awareness on providing services to people with special needs. They may have wheelchairs in the airport for elderly people, but that’s just about it. There are no facilities for disabled people. To be honest, we are not friendly towards them.”

Lion Air has yet to publicly comment on the suit.