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British woman stranded in Singapore after airline loses wheelchair part

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Gemma Quinn, who is paralysed, has trip across Asia ruined after Emirates mislaid part of her custom-built chair

Tue 24 Dec 2019

Last modified on Tue 24 Dec 2019

A woman has been left stranded in Singapore after part of her wheelchair was lost while travelling with Emirates from Manchester airport.

Gemma Quinn, 35, who was paralysed from the neck down in a car accident as a child in 1992, booked a 19-day trip across Asia with her two carers at a cost of more than £15,000.

But Quinn is spending her holiday, and Christmas, in a hotel room in Singapore after a “catalogue of errors” meant the back of her custom-made wheelchair was lost during the first leg of her trip, rendering it unusable.

She flew from Manchester to Dubai on 23 December with the airline before arriving in Singapore on 24 December, but is now unable to leave her bed or complete the next two stops on her country-hopping trip.

She told PA Media: “This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime which is now turned into a living nightmare.

“I have always tried to live as normal and active a life as possible. Travel always comes with its difficulties but I have never been made to feel so disabled as I do now.”

The 35-year-old made headlines nearly a quarter of a century ago after she wrote to Superman actor Christopher Reeve when he was paralysed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident in 1995.

After encouraging the late actor to not give up in the face of his diagnosis, Quinn, who comes from Merseyside, met Diana, Princess of Wales, that same year.

Quinn told PA Media she had been “degraded” by the experience with Emirates after she was informed the back of her chair had been lost after her first flight.

Without the specially moulded back of the chair, she was carried through Dubai airport in a stretcher in order to make her connecting flight.

“It was an absolutely mortifying experience,” Quinn said. “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.”

Quinn added that the vital part of the custom-made chair, which cost several thousand pounds, has not been recovered and was not even registered as lost by Emirates until she got to Singapore.

She was supposed to be travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to celebrate the new year before travelling to a beach resort in the country.

However, this is now unlikely given the custom-built nature of Quinn’s chair. Emirates had said nothing can be done until after the Christmas holiday.

She added: “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 those out of my window until Emirates deliver on a promise.”

Emirates has been contacted for comment.


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