In the world of music, there are certain moments that become legendary, and one such moment was the night Jon Hetherington was given a 2nd chance to see Beyoncé’s spectacular concert. For music enthusiasts and fans alike, attending a Beyoncé concert is a dream come true, and Jon Hetherington’s missed opportunity is a tale of unexpected twists and the enduring power of fan unity.
Jon Hetherington had the chance to attend a Beyoncé concert, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that he had been looking forward to for 25 years. Everything was set—the tickets were secured, travel arrangements made, and the excitement was unexplainable. However, before the event, unforeseen circumstances arose that made it impossible for him to attend.
Jon had tickets to see Beyonce in Seattle on September 13. When Jon arrived at the airport to take his flight, the airline informed him that they could not accommodate his electric wheelchair. Jon, who has cerebral palsy relies on his wheelchair to get around. The crew tried to find Mr. Hetherington, 34, another flight on a plane that could accommodate his wheelchair; an Airbus could do it, he was told, but the only one available would get him there 12 hours too late.
“This is a systemic issue, this is ableism, this is what I’ve dealt with my whole life,” Mr. Hetherington said in an interview. “I was demoralized by the whole thing.”
Never Say Never, The Beyhive Saved The Day
He posted a video on social media detailing his ordeal, and Beyoncé fans, better known as the BeyHive, went to work, tagging the singer and her management company, and promising to reach out to contacts in their networks to see if anything could be done.
@liberatedbygaga Ableism strikes again. After waing 25 years, I’m not seeing @Beyoncé tonight #beyonce #renaissance #renaissanceworldtour #rwt2023 #ableism #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Jon
After all the fans reached out to Bey’s team, Jon now had a ticket to see Beyoncé on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas, after a representative for Bey reached out to him. In addition to the concert, they also arranged for his transportation, including the flight.
“I’m really grateful and very much appreciate that this is all happening,” he said. When it comes to making spaces more accessible, he said, “I hope people will actually engage with this stuff and not just let it go. That’s what’s important to me.”
Wait, it definitely gets cooler than that. Not only did Beyonce fly him out, but he was fortunate enough to meet the Queen herself and her mom Tina Knowles.
Ableism Is A Problem
Jon, who originally attempted to fly on Alaska Airlines, said the situation was “bigger than one airline.”
“We have not built our society or this country in a way that is fully inclusive,” he said. “Day to day, we’re kind of ignored and invisible,” he said, referring to people with disabilities.
He may not have made it to Seattle, but it was not for lack of effort.
Gate attendants helped Jon into an airport wheelchair, and tried repeatedly to get his own wheelchair to collapse. Jon said the gate attendants were kind and helpful, but in the end, the chair was still four inches too tall. The airline said it would refund the cost of his flight, and a gate attendant helped him file a disability complaint with Alaska Airlines.
“We feel terrible about our guest’s travel experience with us,” the airline said in a statement. “We’re always aiming to do better as we encounter situations such as this one”
The company confirmed the details provided by Jon and said its Boeing planes have dimension limitations when it comes to loading electric wheelchairs into the cargo hold. Travelers are not required to alert them that they use a mobility aid but are encouraged to do so.
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