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Qantas offers disabled Aussie $3500 to stay quiet after damaging his wheelchair

An Australian wheelchair athlete who claims Qantas badly damaged his wheelchair on a recent flight, rendering it unusable, said the compensation package offered by the airline won’t “even cover a set of wheels,” let alone the entire chair. In addition to the lack of proper remuneration, Qantas also attempted to make the man sign “a confidential settlement” to stay quiet, he said.

Queensland man Timothy Lachlan made history as the first Australian to land a wheelchair backflip and is also a disability advocate and advisor. He traveled with Qantas from Dallas, Texas, to Sydney in February when he said handlers for the airline broke his chair.

Stuck in a bitter battle for compensation for months, the Logan man said compensation of $3,500 offered by Qantas doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

Queensland man Timothy Lachlan says Qantas broke his wheelchair on a recent flight. Source: 7News

Lachlan, like many Australians living with a disability, described his wheelchair as “his legs.”

“This wheelchair is basically my legs — Qantas has basically broken my legs,” he told 7News of the custom chair he’s owned for more than a decade.

“If you go up the slightest incline, the chair just tips back.”

Lachlan now can no longer ride and says the saga has cost him work as an occupational therapist. He’s currently borrowing a friend’s chair to get around and says although he did try to fix his chair, he wasn’t able to due to the extent of the damage.

Timothy said the airline tried to offer him $3,500 to stay quiet. Source: 7News

In the most recent exchange between Lachlan and Qantas, the airline told him; “We would like to increase our offer by $1000, making it a total of $3,560, subject to the receipt of a signed confidential settlement.”

But according to Lachlan “that’s not even going to cover a set of wheels.” And instead of staying quiet, he decided to do the opposite and call out the airline, which has a large hit to its reputation in recent years.

In a statement provided to Yahoo News Australia, a Qantas spokesperson said they “sincerely apologize to Mr Lachlan for the damage caused to his wheelchair.”

“We have offered him compensation and are waiting to hear back,” a spokesperson said.

Lachlan said he would like the incident to serve as a reminder to Qantas, and airlines in general, to be more respectful when it comes to transporting mobility aids. “I am more than happy to meet with them, I invite the CEO of Qantas to jump in this chair and tell me it doesn’t need to be replaced,” he said.

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