Recently, Tony Fernandes announced three Malaysian Paralympic athletes will be getting free flights for life. In case if you missed it, Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, Mohamad Ziyad Zolkefli and Abdul Latif Romli won Gold medals during Paralympics Rio 2016.
Our paralympic athletes begin to get more coverage in mainstream media, especially after Ridzuan Puzi’s victory last year during IPC World Championships at Doha, Qatar.
Minister of Youth and Sports, YB Khairy Jamaluddin also expressed his satisfaction with the victory in his social media channels, Facebook as well as Twitter. He said when he was just starting work as the minister, paralympic athletes were only eligible up to 30% of the original reward amount than what “normal” athletes would get. Using his capacity has a minister as well as chairman of National Sports Council (Majlis Sukan Negara, MSN), he instructed his subordinates to arrange for same reward amount for athletes with disabilities and able-bodied ones.
Unfortunately, people with disabilities need to pay more when they board AirAsia. The image above (taken on 12 September 2016) shows RM 127.20 charge if you “book” wheelchair services in Kuala Lumpur – Kuching flight at the counter. If you book it in advance, you will end up paying 50% less than the counter rate. Abolishing the fee is the best way to show that AirAsia does not only care towards para athletes but also everyone else with disabilities.
Definitely Tony is doing good PR for the company in promoting free flights for the para athletes but given the amount of monthly allowance that they will be getting, we can guess that paying for flights will no longer be a major problem for them. Instead, we have a huge number of other people with disabilities who are having difficulty sparing extra money for the wheelchair fee.
Wheelchair-bound people have never asked to be in that condition. They are already having difficulty in navigating the airport, yet we want to add exorbitant fees to their fare. We shall be more aware of their predicaments in daily life. We ought to make their flight easier.
“Now, everyone can fly”.
October 30th 2017 Update: Read our follow-up post here.