Virgin Blue staff will not push wheelchairs

Virgin stands by wheelchair decision

Virgin Blue is defending its new policy on wheelchair passengers, saying it is necessary to protect airline staff from injuries.

From June 1, Virgin Blue staff will not be allowed to push wheelchairs, leaving passengers to operate mandatory airline wheelchairs themselves.

David Craig from Disability Rights Victoria says the policy is part of a trend.

“It’s part of a raft of a number of areas where occupational health and safety has been used as a reason for not providing the kinds, the varieties of assistance and there’s plenty of resources and training material around on how to do that safely,” Mr Craig said.

Virgin Blue says that it will still assist passengers move from their wheelchair to the aircraft seat.

Virgin stands by wheelchair decision

Additional information on Virgin Blue’s SSR policies:



  1. Patricia Tryon

    They won’t push chairs, but… Virgin Blue says that it will still assist passengers move from their wheelchair to the aircraft seat.

    That wanders pretty far into WTF? territory for my sensibilities.

  2. darrenh

    So how does it make sense that staff will help make the transfer, but not push the chair?

  3. Katja

    In the US, wheelchair pushing (around the airport, to the gate) is contracted out, but aisle chair pushing (from the door of the plane to your seat) and transfers are the responsibility of airline employees. If this is true in Australia, this may just be a cost-cutting measure, and have absolutely nothing to do with anything else.

  4. Patricia Tryon

    I’m dubious. IMHO “big” Virgin is up there with RyanAir on service issues. Maybe Blue is different, but I wouldn’t be able to get past the part of their logo I recognize.

  5. Christiane

    I found this at SSRS: “Due to safety requirements, our aircraft configurations are unable to accommodate in-flight aircraft aisle wheelchairs”. They don’t push you because they don’t have aisle chairs. :-) “Due to safty requirements”? Are they sure, that they don’t mean economical requirements? Why they just don’t write “We don’t want you”?

  6. Katja

    I saw that – it sounds like they’re making a distinction between a jetway aisle chair and an in-flight aisle chair (which in the US is called the “onboard wheelchair”) for transport to the lavatory during the flight. Still, <irony>sounds like a wonderful airline.</irony>

  7. Jennifer

    Now remind me isn’t transferring someone from a wheelchair hard on ones body no matter how capiable the tranfree is? but yet they cannot transport one to their seat via wheelchair because company policy states that they canoot? to me that sounds like a type of discrimination to me.

  8. Katja (Post author)

    Airlines are way behind the power curve when it comes to thinking creatively about transferring people safely.

    Assisting with a transfer can certainly be dangerous to whoever’s doing the assisting, especially if they are untrained, and if they are doing it frequently. The answer, like so many of the answers to disability/access/discrimination issues, is to improve the built environment, not to just say, “Sorry, no more transfers for you.”

  9. Dedy, M.Bus

    Virgin Blue staff has many things to do.
    Dont you think pushing wheelchair is a cost driver?

  10. Katja (Post author)

    You know, you’re right! If they didn’t have to deal with all those pesky customers, think of the money they’d save.


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