‘Get out’: Australian amputee alleges ‘humiliating’ experience from Singapore Airlines staff for sitting at emergency exit row

An amputee is alleging discrimination and rude service from Singapore Airlines staff who denied her to sit in the emergency exit row.

Isabella Beale, 23, told Australian ABC News yesterday that she was discriminated against by Singapore Airlines staff on two occasions during her family trip to Europe from Australia in January.

Beale, a congenital amputee without a left forearm, claimed she was humiliated in front of passengers when she was demanded to change seats from being seated at the emergency exit row.

“All of a sudden an air hostess approaches me and, in quite a loud tone and quite, like frantic and rushed, she just says, ‘Get out, get out of that seat now, you need to get up’,” Beale said.

The airline disallows passengers who are pregnant, under 15 years old, with infants, or in need of “special assistance” from sitting in emergency exit rows.

While Beale is an amputee, she does not require any assistance. 

When Beale switched seats with her partner next to her, the staff ordered her to sit in the row behind instead. She said it was a “very humiliating and upsetting” as everyone on the flight was looking and could hear what was happening.

“I understand that there might be policy around this, I’m not saying I need you to sit me in emergency, I’m saying I need you to treat me like a human being,” Beale said.

On her flight back, Beale said the treatment from the airline staff was “tenfold worse.”

Beale alleged that a female staff rudely told her partner and mother that Beale had to move as she was seated in the exit row once again. It felt as if the staff didn’t think she could understand, Beale said.

“I don’t know if that assumption came because I’m a person with a disability or if she assumed that because I had a physical disability, I had an intellectual disability, which wouldn’t matter either way… you still speak to me. I’m still a person,” she said.

Soon after, there were two air hostesses and two ground staff surrounding her while other passengers watched after Beale questioned why she had to move.

“Well, the problem’s obvious,” a manager allegedly said repeatedly while gesturing at Beale’s missing limb.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told ABC News that they apologize for the incident and have undergone an investigation which found that Beale was deemed not suitable to be seated at the exit row as she did not meet the safety and regulatory requirements.

Also, the staff’s behavior was likely due to them acting on a “potential safety issue” and that their crude responses could be because they felt rushed for the flight’s departure.

But the airline said the staff in question was given further customer training and had refunded Beale the extra cost of the seats in the exit row.

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