Paraplegic Athlete ‘Forced to Urinate in a Bottle’ on flydubai

Nov 16, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In aviation, there is no shortage of horror stories from disabled passengers trying to negotiate proper accessibility with airlines.

The latest iteration of these encounters comes from a paraplegic athlete on board a flydubai flight from Dubai (DXB) to Helsinki (HEL) in October. Darren Belling, a 52-year-old Australian athlete, was on board the seven-hour flight to compete in the World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Finland.

About three hours into the flight, Belling informed a flight attendant he needed to use the lavatory and asked for access to the onboard wheelchair. The cabin crew replied there was no wheelchair on the plane.

“They said ‘we don’t carry on-board wheelchairs’, and told me just to hold on for the seven-hour flight,” Belling told the BBC. (The airline later told the BBC that it is unable to provide onboard wheelchairs.)

Then, the flight attendants brought Belling an empty water bottle so he could urinate while seated. Belling says that crew even attempted to charge him for the blanket they provided to cover himself while urinating. The athlete said he was “humiliated” by the experience.

“I was just in disbelief over the level of treatment,” he told the BBC. “It just throws up in your face that you’ve got a disability and some people and businesses don’t have an empathetic view of it and treat you differently.”

Flydubai finally offered an apology to Belling. “flydubai would like to sincerely apologise to Mr. Belling for the experience he had whilst travelling with us,” an airline spokesperson told TPG in a statement. “As soon as we were made aware of his experience we contacted him directly. We have spoken to Mr. Belling and we have taken his feedback very seriously. A full investigation is underway to understand how this happened. This experience falls short of our expectations as we aim to treat all of our passengers with care and respect.”

In the US, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) only requires aircraft with more than one aisle to provide a wheelchair accessible lavatory. Being outside of the US, flydubai would not be subjected to this legislation, but the low-cost carrier does have a fleet of all single-aisle Boeing 737 and 737 MAX 8s.

In 2016, US airlines reported 32,445 disability-related complaints, according to the Department of TransportationOf those complaints, 17,498 involved wheelchairs, 707 of which were reported to be damaged. An additional 338 complaints were related to “storage and delay” of a traveler’s wheelchair.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.