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Woman Forced To Crawl Off Plane After Airline Asked Her To Pay For Wheelchair Services

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Natalie Curtis

An Australian woman has demonstrated the abelism people with disabilities face when traveling in a video that has outraged viewers.

Natalie Curtis, from Queensland, Australia, had been aboard the Australian airline Jetstar from Townsville to Bangkok with a layover in Singapore when the incident took place.

In an interview with 7NEWS' breakfast show "Sunrise," Curtis explained that she had been offered a standard aisle wheelchair to board in Singapore, but not when she arrived in Thailand.

The disabled woman was forced to crawl off the plane after an airline tried to charge her for a wheelchair.

Curtis claimed that the airline told her she would have to pay to use another wheelchair to disembark from the plane.

After the airline representatives for Jetstar informed Curtis of the charge, she refused.

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Curtis pointed out that she had never been asked to pay for accessibility while traveling before. 

“When we arrived (staff) were asking us to actually pay and I didn’t really comprehend it, and I’m like, ‘No, I’m not paying to be able to get off this plane,’” Curtis told “Sunrise.”

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With no other options left, Curtis was forced to crawl down the aisle of seats toward the exit of the aircraft.

"They all just sat around for a while and the option that was left was for me to get on the floor and crawl,” Curtis continued.

The entire incident had been recorded by Curtis' friend, Natasha Efford, who had been traveling with her friend.

While speaking to 7NEWS, Efford admitted that she wanted to carry Curtis toward the exit of the plane, but was unable to due to a knee injury.

"I just felt really sorry for Natalie … I just felt really hopeless and I’m like, ‘I just can’t believe this is really happening,’” Efford told the news outlet.

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Curtis acknowledged that the dispute between her and the airline may have been because of the language barrier.

Per 7NEWS, airline officials were reportedly informed that an aisle wheelchair was unavailable for at least 40 minutes after the flight arrived in Bangkok.

According to the report, Curtis brought her own wheelchair on the flight, but it was too large to fit in the cabin.

"[Staff] did obviously try to offer to lift her up and carry her, but if they dropped her [Curtis] that would [have been] 10 times worse,” Elford recalled.

However, a representative for Jetstar told 7NEWS that they had never requested payment from Curtis to use a wheelchair.

"We unreservedly apologize to Ms. Curtis for her recent experience while traveling with us,” the spokesperson said.

“Regrettably, this was not the case for Ms. Curtis following a miscommunication that resulted in the delay of an aisle chair being made available at the gate on arrival and we are looking into what happened as a matter of urgency."

Despite the airline offering Curtis a refund and other compensation for her troubles, she remained adamant about never flying with Jetstar again.

"I definitely don’t want anyone else to go through what I had to go through," she vowed.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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