'It left us with a terrible aftertaste' - SAA apologises for mistreatment of Paralympian

2016-09-21 17:18
Aeroplane. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Aeroplane. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Durban - South African Airways (SAA) says it was a "cause for concern" that Paralympic bronze medallist Tyrone Pillay was denied his prosthetics during a flight from Johannesburg to Durban.

"Whilst Mr Pillay was on his other prosthetics when the incident occurred, the denial to have with him his additional set is a cause for concern. It should have been treated as his carry-on luggage or assistive device. The incident has left all of us with a terrible aftertaste. The airline truly regrets this," SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Wednesday.

The airline went on to apologise directly to Pillay.

"He was flying on SA 551 from Johannesburg to Durban. SAA has already made contact with Mr Pillay and we have apologised to him."

In a series of posts on Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday‚ Pillay updated his fans on his journey from Rio until the Paralympics team had "touched down" in South Africa on Tuesday.

His tweets read: "Worst airline to fly with @flysaa. Terrible treatment of a Paralympic athlete as the staff refuse to allow my prosthetic leg on board.

"Can't believe I get treated like this after winning a medal for our country. Totally disrespectful."

Matter being followed up

Pillay‚ a shot putter‚ won bronze in the in the F42 category at the Paralympics. He was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Tlali said SAA was disappointed that Pillay had a "spoilt" customer experience on his way home.

According to Tlali, SAA had, thus far, gathered that "the incident happened just before he got on board the aircraft".

Tlali said SAA was following up on the matter internally and would "have a session with the staff member concerned on Wednesday".

"We were not able to speak to her yesterday as her shift had already ended and [she] had left for the day when we became aware of the incident."

He added that SAA policy made provision for passengers' assistive devices to be carried into the cabin.

"Mr Pillay's prosthetic legs fall under this classification and should have been allowed."

Read more on:    saa  |  tyrone pillay  |  human rights

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