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Prosthetic leg gaffe: SAA apologises to Paralympian

Travel News

Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) has apologised to paralympic bronze medalist Tyrone Pillay after a staffer there allegedly prohibited him from boarding his flight with his prosthetic leg.

Spokesperson Tlali Tlali told The Star that the airline, which was one of the sponsorship partners of the Olympics and Paralympics teams, was disappointed at the incident.

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Bronze medalist Tyrone Pillay at the Rio Paralympics meets his nephews seven year old Aidan and five year old Riley Pillay at O.R. Tambo airport during the welcoming ceremony for Team South Africa. Picture: Chris Collingridge

“SAA would like to once again apologise to Mr Pillay for the unfortunate travel experience he endured on connecting from Johannesburg to Durban. We have learnt that whilst this incident had nothing to do with our cabin crew, they also apologised to Mr Pillay,” he said.

On Tuesday the shot-put athlete was about to travel from Joburg to Durban, where he lives when the airline allegedly refused to let him board with his prosthetic leg.

It was just moments before Pillay and others from Team SA received a heroes welcome from hundreds of fans as they touched down at O.R Tambo International Airport following their return from the Rio Paralympics in Brazil.

After the welcoming and prize giving ceremony, he took to social media to vent his frustrations.

He tweeted: “Worst airline to fly with @flysaa. Terrible treatment of a Paralympic athlete as the staff refuse to allow my prosthetic leg on board.”

In a subsequent Twitter post, Pillay added: “Can't believe I get treated like this after winning a medal for our country. Totally disrespectful.”

SAA responded on their official twitter account to one of the athletes tweets and asked him to direct message them what happened.

Tlali has since said that SAA's policy makes provision for passenger assistive devices to be carried into the cabin.

“Mr Pillay's prosthetic legs fall under this classification and should have been allowed.”

He added that the matter is being handled internally and that SAA would have a session with the staff member concerned to hear their side of the story.

The Star

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