Qatar Airways flights: Geelong man allegedly coerced for obstructing Qatar Airways flight

A Geelong-born man claims he was kicked off a Qatar Airways flight and stranded at Melbourne airport because of his disability.

Craig Nolan, who is confined to a wheelchair because of spina bifida, had boarded a flight to Finland before being abruptly told to get off the plane.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Wheelchair user thrown off plane for traveling alone.

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The 43-year-old returned after visiting Australia for a family funeral in September.

Nolan says he was placed in an aisle chair at the airport gate – a smaller wheelchair used on airplanes but cannot be pushed independently.

Nolan told Sunrise that two stewardesses helped him board the plane and lifted him over a step before helping him into his seat.

“I was sitting there and a stewardess came up to me and asked what help I needed during the flight and I said (to go to the toilet) just bring the aisle chair and that I’m otherwise independent in the bathroom am, but just take me back to my seat afterwards, just like your job as a stewardess,” he said.

“She said OK and walked away and five to 10 minutes later another stewardess came up to me and said I had to get off the flight.”

Geelong-born Craig Nolan and his girlfriend Brigitte speak to Sunrise after he says he was thrown off a Qatar Airways flight because of his disability and was stranded at Melbourne Airport. Recognition: sunrise

When Nolan questioned the stewardess, he was told that this was because he was a disabled person traveling alone and had to leave.

“I asked whose decision that was and was told it was the captain’s. I asked to speak to the captain but was denied that opportunity…they didn’t want any further discussion,” he said.

“It wasn’t until I got off the plane that I was told again that it was because I was traveling alone.”

Nolan’s childhood friend Brigitte told Sunrise that they previously traveled to many different countries together and never encountered such problems.

“I understand how difficult it is to navigate even with normal things in a wheelchair,” she said.

“But never before have we had issues like this where he’s very clear articulating his needs … and it’s also very simple needs and there was this kind of discrimination and it’s just humiliating when he gets thrown out of a plane.”

Nolan added he has traveled to about 30 countries and has never encountered an issue like this.

“I’ve traveled the world and in the 20+ years that I’ve been traveling this has never happened to me,” he said. has reached out to Qatar Airways for comment.

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James Brien

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