Singapore — A disabled British national, who scheduled the trip of a lifetime over the holidays, lost a part of her wheelchair en route to Asia and was left stranded and unable to move from her bed in a hotel room in Singapore on Christmas Day.
Ms Gemma Quinn, an experienced traveller, said: “This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime which has now turned into a living nightmare.”
The 35-year-old, who is paralysed from the neck down, was travelling with two caregivers and had spent over £15,000 (S$26,000) for the trip.
Ms Quinn and her companions had flown from Manchester on an Emirates flight on Dec 23, arriving in Singapore the next day. However, during a stopover in Dubai, she found that the back of her custom-made wheelchair, which had been put in the hold, had gone missing.
She was told that a solution to the problem would be found once she arrived in Singapore and was carried through the airport in Dubai on a stretcher for the next leg of her journey.
However, by the time she got to Singapore, the back of her wheelchair was still missing, forcing Ms Quinn to remain in bed and to postpone the next two stops on her trip.
Theindependent.co.uk reports her as saying: “I have always tried to live as normal and active life as possible. Travel always comes with its difficulties but I have never been made to feel so disabled as I do now.”
Ms Quinn says that what she encountered with the airline had been degrading.
“It was an absolutely mortifying experience. I kept telling all the staff that if they couldn’t find the missing back off my chair then there was no point in me continuing my trip.
“I got the feeling that they just wanted me off the aircraft. I eventually very reluctantly agreed to be stretchered to my connecting flight on the promise that they would be working on a solution by the time I landed in Singapore.
“By the time I landed in Singapore, nothing had been done. The only thing they did was put a pillow on the back of my chair, held in place with two aeroplane seat belts. I told them how unsafe this was for me but they shrugged it off.
“Here I am now confined to my hotel room completely immobile, the only sights that I can see are the sights out of my window until Emirates delivers on a promise.”
The airline said yesterday (Dec 25) that the back of the wheelchair had been located and issued an apology to Ms Quinn.
According to a representative from the carrier, the part had been found in Dubai and was being transported to Singapore.
“The part will be handed over to her upon its arrival. Our teams in Dubai and Singapore have made every effort to help Ms Quinn and her family continue on their planned holiday, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience they have experienced.”
However, Yahoo News UK reported that Ms Quinn was not celebrating quite yet.
“I have spoken to an Emirates representative who assured me it’s on its way to me in a flight coming in tonight but I will believe it when I see it,” she said yesterday (Dec 25). “I foolishly believed it was on its way when my friend sent me her response from Emirates informing her it was on its way this morning. I was crushed when it didn’t arrive.”
As a child, Ms Quinn was in a vehicular accident that left her paralysed. In 1995, when she was 10 years old, she wrote a letter to Christopher Reeve, telling the Hollywood actor who had played Superman not to give up on life. Reeve had become a paraplegic after a bad fall from a horse in 1995. He died in 2004.
Princess Diana later wrote about the young girl’s courage in a letter to the International Spinal Research Trust. She wrote: “To any parent, the thought of their child suffering a serious spinal injury is truly frightening. I, therefore, find Gemma’s example of hope and courage all the more inspiring.” -/TISG
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