Lost wheelchair part leaves British woman stranded in Singapore for Christmas

File photo of Emirates’ aircraft, at left, Gemma Quinn’s wheelchair sans back, at right. Photos: Mr Worker, Gill Quinn/Facebook
File photo of Emirates’ aircraft, at left, Gemma Quinn’s wheelchair sans back, at right. Photos: Mr Worker, Gill Quinn/Facebook

A British woman got a bad start to her 19-day holiday in Asia when Emirates airlines lost a part of her wheelchair, leaving her stranded on Christmas in Singapore. 

Gemma Quinn had boarded the flight from Manchester to Singapore via Dubai, when she discovered that the back of her wheelchair was lost, preventing her from continuing her journey around the continent, multiple British reports said.

The 35-year-old landed in Singapore on Christmas Eve and had to check into a hotel, according to The Guardian.

The missing part was recovered on Christmas Day, according to a Facebook post by her sister Gill Quinn yesterday, at nearly 11pm Singapore time. 

Emirates has reportedly apologized for the incident.

“Emirates wishes to confirm that the missing part of Ms Quinn’s wheelchair has been located in Dubai and is being transported to Singapore on 25 December 2019,” the airline was quoted in reports as saying.

“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 experience.” 

Email enquiries to Emirates airlines went unreturned by publication time.

Quinn was meant to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where she plans to spend New Years, before heading to a resort in the country, The Independent reported. Her customized wheelchair had cost her several thousand dollars, it added.

“This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime which is now turned into a living nightmare,” the publication quoted her as saying. The multi-day trip reportedly costs her more than GBP15,000 (S$26,000).

“I have always tried to live a 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,” she added. 

Quinn sister was “absolutely devastated” over what happened, she wrote on Facebook, adding that airline staffers had strapped a pillow onto the wheelchair as a not-so-effective temporary solution. 

Their solution was a pillow strapped together with two belt buckles. Their solution resulted in her falling out of her chair, luckily her carers caught her before any serious damage was done,” she said. “This is not simply a case of lost luggage. Her wheelchair is a necessity and she is unable to leave the [hotel] room without it.”

She added: “For the first time today I heard my sister downbeat and withdrawn. It’s heartbreaking to hear such a determined spirit say that they want to come home and to feel this helpless and unable to find a solution for her.”

In a separate post last night, her sister wrote that the wheelchair situation had been sorted. 

Gemmas chair is sorted!!! Thank you for all your support. Christmas can now begin. Merry Christmas everyone,” she said.

Quinn became paralysed from the neck down following a 1992 car accident when she was 7. She made headlines in 1995 when she wrote a motivational letter to Superman star Christopher Reeves following his horse-riding accident that also rendered him paralyzed from the neck down.

Quinn even inspired the late Princess Diana to write to the International Spinal Research Trust to commend her courage. Both of them met some time after Quinn’s letter to Reeves.

More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.

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