Disabilities and plane travel

By | Category: Travel rumblings

one wheelchair is not like another and some take up more room

In another year the government is due to publish its aviation strategy.

Part of that strategy will probably include measures to make it easier for disabled passengers to fly. Whilst much of the attention has been on those passengers who are in wheelchairs (following the Frank Gardner episode) all types of disabilities are being considered.

Certainly there will be measures on how long those requiring assistance will have to wait and some sort of naming and shaming exercise or even fines are being suggested for breaches of those rules

New measures to improve air travel for disabled passengers are being considered by the government. This year will be spent in considering suggestions so if you are affected and feel that you want to contribute to the debate then you should contact your local MP so that they can put your views forward or failing that, the transport minister responsible for aviation, Lady Sugg.

Some suggestions that are being bandied about are going to be easier to resolve with the airline industry than others. Blocking an area in the hold for wheelchairs so that they can removed more quickly than they seem to be – anecdotally at least – at present would seem relatively easy to agree. Removing seats so that wheelchair users can have their own wheelchairs as seats on planes seems more problematic. Some motorised wheelchairs are too big for some of the aisles on smaller planes. As wheelchairs are larger than the seats that they replace more than one seat might have to be removed to accommodate one motorised wheelchair. I can’t imagine Michael O’Leary, for example, at Ryanair happily removing six seats to make way for three wheelchair positions.

But buses and trains are regulated by each country. Airlines come under international scrutiny and agreement will probably have to be multi national and IATA sanctioned.

No airline will want to say that they object to improvements but sometimes they do have a habit of kicking the ball into the long grass!

The argument about wheelchairs was fought long ago on trains and buses son why not have the same apply to planes? There is a downside for wheelchair passengers. If, for example, it becomes mandatory for airlines to block off sufficient space for three motorised wheelchairs on each flight, the fourth wheelchair user may have to wait some time to travel.

But the disabled are not limited to those in wheelchairs. Others should make their views known as well.

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