Jon Hetherington, a 34-year-old disabled man with cerebral palsy, received an unexpected gift from Beyoncé and the Beyhive. According to Today.com, Hetherington had waited for 25 years to see the music legend, Beyoncé, perform.
He was prepared to go see her Renaissance Tour stop in Seattle on September 14 but was unfortunately denied a seat on the plane. He was told at the airport that his wheelchair “exceeded requirements to fly” by four inches, which came as a surprise to him since he had used a similar flight previously to go see musician Janelle Monáe’s tour some weeks ago.
According to him, he even recognized the Alaska Airlines employee from his previous trip, only this time he was told that the airline had problems moving his chair. The employee went as far as to get tools to try to collapse his wheelchair.
“I’d never seen anybody collapse it. I didn’t know if you could,” Hetherington said. After several attempts, they finally told him only an Airbus could accommodate him, and the available flight would arrive the day after the show.
After being told he wouldn’t be able to board the flight, Hetherington was handed a complaint form to fill out and assured he would receive a refund. Hetherington told the New York Times he had been left “demoralized” when he was forced to miss the Seattle show.
Although he was dissatisfied with Alaska Airlines, he argued that the situation extended beyond the airline and underlined a larger issue with ableism in transportation. He went outside and vented his frustration on TikTok. “Well, guess I’m not going to Seattle and I’m not seeing Beyoncé,” he said in the video before explaining his experience. “…So, ableism strikes again,” he added in conclusion.
Hetherington, who has approximately 23,000 followers on the platform, quickly drew the attention of Beyoncé fans. His video received over 100,000 views and an abundance of comments. Members of the Beyhive alerted Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Solange Knowles, Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé’s production and entertainment firm, and even her foundation, BeyGOOD, to what was going on.
They didn’t stop there. To get as much support as possible, the Beyhive shared his story on Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. Hetherington stated that he wasn’t expecting the video to become viral as quickly as it did. He was overcome with emotion by the Beyhive’s response.
Their perseverance paid off, as a representative from the singer’s organization contacted him a few days later. In an unbelievable turn of events, he was flown out to Arlington, Texas, to see her show at the AT&T Stadium on September 21, bringing fulfillment to his lifelong dream.
Hetherington posted a picture of him smiling from his floor seats as he waited for the concert to begin on Instagram. “It’s literally you’ve been waiting your whole life to just be in the room and hear that voice. And here it is. It’s happening,” he said, remembering the moment she appeared on stage. “I couldn’t have the words to (express) what I was feeling at that time.”
He also uploaded photos of him meeting Beyoncé, his mom Tina Knowles-Lawson, and the dancers and band.
“Long live the Queen! Forever shall she reign,” he wrote beside a photo of him in conversation with the music icon.