Paralysed woman to continue dream trip as wheelchair part lost by airline found
A paralysed woman left stranded in Singapore after the back of her wheelchair was lost by an airline will now be able to continue with her trip of a lifetime after the part was found.
Gemma Quinn, 35, had spent more than £15,000 on a dream 19-day trip around Asia with her two carers but was faced with the possibility of not being able to leave her hotel room.
Ms Quinn was paralysed from the neck down in a car accident in 1992 and uses a custom-made wheelchair costing several thousand pounds to travel.
On her first flight with Emirates on December 23, the back of the chair was lost after it was put in the hold, rendering Ms Quinn’s vital chair unusable.
The experienced traveller flew from Manchester Airport to Dubai, where she was carried through the airport on a stretcher and told a solution would be found for when she arrived in Singapore.
However, when she arrived in Singapore on December 24, the back had not been found, leaving Ms Quinn unable to leave her bed or consider completing the next two stops on her trip.
She told the PA news agency: “This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime, which has 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.”
Ms Quinn told PA she had been “degraded” by the experience with Emirates when she was informed the back of her chair had been lost after her first flight, adding that the specially-moulded back of the chair was not registered as lost by Emirates until she got to Singapore.
“It was an absolutely mortifying experience,” Ms Quinn said. “I got the feeling that they just wanted me off the aircraft.”
On Wednesday, Emirates confirmed the missing part of Ms Quinn’s chair had been found, and apologised.
A spokesman told PA: “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 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 experienced.”
Ms Quinn said she would wait until the part had been returned to her before celebrating.
She said: “I have spoken to an Emirates representative who assured me it’s on its way to me in a flight coming in tonight but I will believe it when I see it.
“I foolishly believed it was on its way when my friend sent me her response from Emirates informing her it was on its way this morning. I was crushed when it didn’t arrive.”
Ms Quinn, originally from Merseyside, made headlines nearly a quarter of a century ago after she wrote to Superman actor Christopher Reeve when he was also paralysed from the neck down.
As a 10-year-old, she also met Diana, Princess of Wales, who praised her “inspiring” hope and courage.