You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Acclaimed author and poet is left 'distressed' after being barred from a Qantas flight because of her emotional support dog

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 5 days ago Kelsey Wilkie

An acclaimed writer has been left in a state of distress after Qantas barred her from boarding a flight with her disability support dog.

a person holding a dog: Fiona Wright, 36, has a flight booked from Sydney to Alice Springs on Friday to attend the NT Writers' Festival © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Fiona Wright, 36, has a flight booked from Sydney to Alice Springs on Friday to attend the NT Writers' Festival Fiona Wright, 36, has a flight booked from Sydney to Alice Springs on Friday to attend the NT Writers' Festival.

The Sydney-based writer is now unsure if she can attend the event after Qantas denied her request to allow her dog Virginia to board too.

a man smiling for the camera: The Sydney-based writer is now unsure if she can attend the event after Qantas denied her request to allow her dog Virginia to board too © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Sydney-based writer is now unsure if she can attend the event after Qantas denied her request to allow her dog Virginia to board too

Ms Wright has Virginia to help with her mental health conditions, which includes anxiety.

Virginia was trained and certified by mindDog, a not-for-profit organisation based in New South Wales.

Despite providing extensive documentation seven weeks ago, Mr Wright's request has been denied, with Qantas claiming the service dog does not meet the required standards to fly in the cabin.

'It's been incredibly stressful and this is the case for a lot of people who live with disability, and especially psychiatric disability, ' she told ABC News. 

'I've done everything they've asked, spent hours chasing up qualifications and letters and forms from all of the people I've worked with, even answered insulting and probably-illegal questions about the nature of my disability,' she said on Twitter.

Who is Fiona Wright? 

Fiona Wright is a writer, editor and critic from Sydney

She wrote Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger won the 2016 Nita B. Kibble Award and the Queensland Literary Award for non-fiction 

Her book was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the NSW Premier’s Douglas Stewart Award 

Her first poetry collection, Knuckled, won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award 

'All of my evidence that my dog is a fully-trained and certified assistance dog is not enough for Qantas. 

'This whole process has been deeply upsetting and taken up a ton of my time and energy. This is out and out discrimination Qantas, and I will be following this up with the Human Rights Commission,' she said.

A Qantas spokesman told Daily Mail Australia the airline understood that 'this is disappointing for Ms Wright'.

He said they would be following up with the author.

'We've been working with her for several weeks to explain Qantas' requirements, including the requirements we need to ensure that the dog is trained appropriately to travel inside the cabin.

a large air plane on a runway: Qantas is claiming the service dog does not meet the required standards to fly in the cabin © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Qantas is claiming the service dog does not meet the required standards to fly in the cabin

'Qantas is bound by federal legislation including CASA regulations to ensure all service dogs travelling in the cabin meet the required standards, including training standards.

'Unfortunately in this case, on the information provided, Qantas could not be satisfied that mindDog training met the training standards required.

'Qantas has successfully worked with dozens of other training providers to ensure their standards met Qantas' obligations under legislation and CASA regulations.'

Cath Phillips, the head of the mindDog organisation, told ABC News they stand behind their clients and their dogs. 

'Qantas won't fly mindDogs although all of the other airlines do ... Virgin, Jetstar, and so far all international airlines that have been asked carry our dogs with no problems. 

Related Slideshow: Fascinating facts about dogs

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon