April 24, 2024

Beyoncé Fan Misses Concert After Airline Says They Can’t Fit His Wheelchair

  • A Beyoncé fan couldn’t make it to her Seattle show because his wheelchair couldn’t fit on the plane. 
  • He posted about missing the concert, and the internet came to his side. 
  • Now, people are trying to get him to another show before her tour ends.

Jon Hetherington has been waiting to see Beyoncé for 25 years.

So when an airline told Hetherington they couldn’t fly him to Seattle on time to see Queen Bey for her Thursday show — because they said his wheelchair was four inches too tall — he was crushed.

“The guy at the counter filled out this form and it basically said like ‘your wheelchair exceeded the requirements to be able to fly and we did everything we could to address this and resolve the issue and we couldn’t,'” Hetherington told Insider.

The 34-year-old took to social media to share his story.

“So after 25 years of waiting, I’m not seeing Beyoncé tonight, so ableism strikes again,” Hetherington said in a TikTok. He also posted about the situation on X and Instagram.

Hetherington told Insider when he posted on TikTok he wasn’t expecting more than “a couple hundred” people to see his content. Little did he know, his video would go viral and summon an army of Bey stans, all intent on getting him to another show.

“It’s really surreal and unexpected,” Hetherington said.

His comments on TikTok are filled with people trying to reach Beyoncé and her team. People are also carrying on the campaign with messages of support on X.

“This really is heartbreaking. Like I legit am so upset for him,” one post on X with over 100,000 likes reads. “I hope this pops up in Beyoncé’s camp somehow and even the smallest gesture could make his day.”

Hetherington said he even got messages from fans offering to buy him tickets or give up their own tickets to future shows. However, as much as he appreciated the offers, he said he decided not to take them.

As for what he will do next, Hetherington said he’s exploring his options. However, he said seeing the Renaissance World Tour live would be a massive deal for him as someone who is Black and queer.

“She made the conscious decision to collaborate with people and uplift, black queer culture, and that’s a huge deal that cannot be understated. It’s very important.”

‘This is a systemic issue’

One of the main reasons Hetherington said he posted his video was to illustrate how ableism can produce day-to-day challenges beyond just one missed Beyoncé concert. It’s why he wanted to avoid naming the specific airline that could not accommodate his chair.

“I’m sitting here as someone who has been disabled my entire life, saying it’s not about the one airline,” Hetherington told Insider. “This is a systemic issue.”

Hetherington told Insider that just two weeks ago, after attending a Janelle Monáe concert — also in Seattle — he was stranded for hours because the taxi service that could accommodate his wheelchair stopped operating after midnight. Hetherington said he wasn’t notified of these hours and was “stuck on the streets of Seattle” all night long.

Then, at 8 a.m., his wheelchair died. After calling “every place under the sun,” including the police, fire department, and manufacturer for his chair, he said no one helped him.

Hetherington said a friend’s father eventually helped him book a room — it just so happened that his chair died across the street from a hotel — as he waited for a new charger to be shipped overnight on Amazon.

The charger worked, and he booked a new flight since he missed his initial flight back home to Oregon. Once he got to the airport, he said a new set of issues arose. His chair died again, and he had to find a way to charge it. He spent hours at the airport after airline staff rebooked his flight. After all that, he was finally able to get home.

But because of his initial experience in Seattle, Hetherington told Insider that he “honestly considered not coming back for Beyoncé.”

“I’ve always said unless you yourself are disabled or you directly know somebody that you are very close to, it’s always out of sight, out of mind. We might as well be invisible until society wants us to be an inspiration, until there’s like some feel-good story that able-bodied people can read and make themselves feel better. We never think about the day-to-day challenges. I don’t get to have that luxury. I never have.”

With his videos now viral, he hoped people would continue the conversation about dismantling ableism beyond his own story.

“While people’s eyes are on me, I would hope that maybe, for at least for the time being, I would like some sort of recognition and awareness of these issues. But, you know, who knows?” Hetherington said. “That’s not often how our society works, especially when it comes to disability.”

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