Sixteen-year-old Victoria Martin was denied boarding an Air Namibia flight because she is a wheelchair user.
Victoria, who is paraplegic as a result of a car crash, was due to travel accompanied by her mother. The couple was traveling as Victoria had to attend a routine check-up.
Victoria's mother had told Air Namibia her daughter is a wheelchair user and was told there would be no problem.
However, last Thursday she was left in tears after ground handling agents at Walvis Bay airport told her she would not be accepted for travel.
“The airport manager openly told me in front of my daughter that they do not allow people who are in wheelchairs to get onto planes, even though they had told me it was not an issue the day before,” said Victoria's mom.
The woman alleges this is not the first time Victoria experienced discrimination by Air Namibia. “We had a similar problem in 2015 when Victoria was denied entry onto the plane because of her disability. I had to convince the airport staff that my daughter was independent enough to get on a plane without any help. Only after demonstrating to them that she could get on the plane by herself did they allow her to board the plane – it is very embarrassing,” she said.
The Air Namibia website says that "acceptance for carriage of unaccompanied children, passengers with reduced mobility, pregnant women, persons with illness or other people requiring special assistance is subject to prior arrangement with us. Passengers with disabilities who have advised us of any special requirements they may have at the time of ticketing, and been accepted by us, shall not subsequently be refused carriage on the basis of such disability or special requirements."
Air Namibia's management is investigating the incident.