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Written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the passport-sized leaflet for disabled people, people with reduced mobility and their families, is aimed at making journeys by air as smooth and trouble free as possible.

It sets out what services disabled people can expect from airlines, travel companies and airports and offers legal advice too. It has been developed in association with the Civil Aviation Authority and endorsed by the Department of Transport and other travel organisations.

The guide contains 15 top tips for a smooth journey, covering areas such as assistance dogs, accessibility, getting mobility and other essential equipment on board and seating arrangements. It will be distributed through airport, travel companies and organisations working with disabled people.

With over 90,000 passengers requiring special assistance travelling through its terminals, Heathrow warmly welcomes the guide as another way to ensure its passengers have the right information and are prepared for their journey.

Ahead of the London 2012 Games, Heathrow worked with the charity Whizz Kids and Lord Chris Holmes MBE and Ade Adepitan to better understand how to help passengers with reduced mobility travel through the airport. The legacy lives on across the airport, with enhanced changing facilities, including more signage in Braille to improved staff understanding and refined processes like reuniting those passengers with their wheelchairs.

Paralympian medal winner Lord Chris Holmes MBE who is also Disability Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

"Dignity and respect are values we all share, yet too many disabled travellers have experienced the opposite. Airports are complicated places to navigate. Accurate and succinct information is key for passengers who require assistance. This new guidance is another way to help make journeys as smooth as possible - from the outset when booking flights or holidays all the way through to returning home."

Mark Hicks, Head of Customer Relations at Heathrow said:

"Over 90,000 passengers with reduced mobility travel through Heathrow per month and we strive to meet each person's needs. More than a million pounds has been invested in specific facilities to make their journeys as smooth as possible, such as a new bespoke changing facility in Terminal 5.

"As the guide says, passengers who require help should get in touch with their airline well ahead of travelling so that we can help make the right arrangements at Heathrow."

The Commission has produced the guide as part of its work to improve the experiences of disabled people using air travel, and can be found on their website.

TSA Film

An important air travel accessibility development quoted from Reduced Mobility Rights. Written by Roberto Castiglioni:

US DOTAirlines will be hold to account when international airports do not meet disability standards of service required under US Equality law, the US DOT said.


European and U.S. air travel equality laws differ significantly. In recent times,  questions have been raised about the scope of applicability and the conflict between regulations.


In this exclusive interview with Reduced Mobility Rights, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division gives the American interpretation of the scope of applicability of the law.

For detailed analysis see:

Airline passengers refuse to fly after a blind man and his guide dog are removed from the plane (via Raw Story )

Airline passengers rallied around a blind man Wednesday night after he and his guide dog were removed from the plane. Albert Rizzi and his seeing eye dog tried to board a US Airways express flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Long Island...

JetBlue Makes Travel with Autism Easier

Read more on travel programs or those with autism:

"Around 300 children and their families gathered at JetBlue's Terminal 5 as part of the inaugural Blue Horizons for Autism, a new program from JetBlue and Autism Speaks that aims to help kids with autism become familiar with flying. It's the first autism travel practice event ever held at JFK-one of the nation's busiest airports. The Transportation Safety Authority and the Port Authority also participated in the September 21 event."


New DOT Rules Make Flying Easier for Passengers with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its ongoing effort to ensure equal access to air transportation for all travelers, is requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.  In addition, DOT will allow airlines to choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment on new aircraft or strapping them to a row of seats, an option that will ensure that two manual, folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time.

The new rules are part of DOT's continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.

"All air travelers should be treated fairly when they fly, regardless of any disabilities they may have," said Secretary Foxx.  "These new rules build on our past work in ensuring that our air transportation system is accessible for everyone, while balancing both airlines' and passengers' need for flexibility."

Under the new websites-and-kiosks rule, covered airlines are required within two years to make pages of their websites that contain core travel information and services accessible to persons with disabilities, and to make all of their web pages accessible within three years.  Websites are required to meet the standards for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  The requirement applies to U.S. and foreign airlines with websites marketing air transportation to U.S. consumers for travel within, to or from the United States.   

The rule also requires ticket agents to disclose and offer web-based discount fares to customers unable to use their sites due to a disability starting within 180 days after the rule's effective date.   Airlines are already required to provide equivalent service for consumers who are unable to use inaccessible websites.  Under the new rule, airlines must also offer equivalent service to passengers with disabilities who are unable to use their websites even if the websites meet the WCAG accessibility standards.

In addition, any automated kiosks installed at U.S. airports for services -- such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags --must be  accessible to passengers with disabilities until at least 25 percent of all kiosks at each airport location are  accessible.  Even if no new kiosks are installed, 25 percent of kiosks at each airport location must be accessible within 10 years.  The standards for accessible kiosks are based on those set by the U.S. Department of Justice for ATM and fare machines in its 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act rule as well as the Section 508 standards for self-contained closed products, such as copiers.

DOT's wheelchair rule provides airlines with more flexibility because it permits airlines to transport passenger wheelchairs by strapping them across a row of seats using a strap kit that complies with applicable safety standards, in addition to stowing them in a closet or similar compartment.  In 2008, DOT issued a rule prohibiting airlines from using the seat-strapping method on new aircraft as an alternative to stowing the manual wheelchair in a closet or similar compartment.  In that same rule, DOT allowed the use of a seat-strapping method on existing aircraft.  Based on a fuller evaluation of the costs and benefits, DOT has now revised its position to also allow the use of seat-strapping on new aircraft subject to certain conditions.   For example, if an airline chooses to use the seat-strapping method to stow a wheelchair, it must transport two wheelchairs in the cabin if requested unless stowing the second wheelchair would displace other passengers.  

If an airline chooses to use a closet to stow a wheelchair, then it will still be required to stow only one wheelchair in the cabin.  However, in this case it must install a sign or placard prominently on the closet indicating that a wheelchair and other assistive devices are to be stowed in this area with priority over other items brought onto the aircraft by other passengers or crew, including crew luggage. 

The rule on accessible websites and kiosks is available on the Internet, docket DOT-OST-2011-0177.  In addition to accepting public comments on the web and kiosk rule through this website, the Department partnered with Cornell University's eRulemaking Initiative (CeRI), Regulation Room, designed to improve the public's ability to understand and participate in the rulemaking process. A goal of the CeRI team is to make Regulation Room as accessible to as many users as possible.  This partnership supports President Obama's open-government initiative.  The final rule on wheelchairs is available at the same website at docket DOT-OST-2011-0098.

DOT 92-13

Related Links: 

The 2013 UNWTO and WTM Ministers´ Summit at the World Travel Market (WTM) will put a spotlight on the essential connection between air transport and tourism, debating the challenges and opportunities of promoting higher policy coordination between aviation and tourism (London, United Kingdom, 5 November 2013). 

Tourism Ministers from around the world and private sector representatives will be participating in a discussion around the theme "How to bridge the gap between tourism and aviation policies". Charles Hodson, anchor of CNN International´s flagship business programme, "World Business Today" will moderate the debate.
The Summit´s 2013 edition will address the following issues:


  • Bringing air transport and tourism policies closer together
  • Opportunities and challenges facing air transport and development - infrastructure, taxes and levies, visa facilitation and regulation
  • Success factors and remaining obstacles

Speakers include the Ministers and Secretaries of State for Tourism of Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Spain and South Africa as well as the President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the Vice President of Government Affairs of Amadeus, the Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Vice President for Europe of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Director of the Air Transport Bureau of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The discussion will be further enriched by the participation of over 40 Ministers registered to attend the event.

Now on its seventh year, the UNWTO/WTM Ministers´ Summit is part of the World Travel Market Ministers Programme, bringing together Tourism Ministers and leading tourism experts to debate each year key issues affecting the future of the sector.

Useful links: 

2013 UNWTO/WTM Ministers´Summit 

Wheelchair Travel - The Video

On the Tarmac with Delta Airlines



A former professor of philosophy at the California State University, Long Beach, and current head of the Lovevolution Foundation and a Maui, Hawaii, resident was forced to crawl in his nicest suit hand over hand through the main cabin floor of the Delta aircraft, down a narrow flight of stairs and across the tarmac to his wheelchair. There were a great number of people watching, but not helping. Flight attendants gave no assistance.

Delta Airlines was served with a legal complaint number CV13-00365KSC filed on July 23, 2013 in the US District court in Hawaii by D. Baraka Kanaan. Mr. Kanaan, who suffers from paraparesis, a partial paralysis of his legs, which renders him unable to walk, was subject to this appallingly outrageous treatment by Delta Airlines agents.

It was alleged Mr. Kanaan suffered intense physical and extreme emotional suffering as a result of the defendant's action and omissions.

Mr. Kanaan was involved in an accident in 2000 and his condition has deteriorated.

Mr. Kanaan had called Delta Airlines several weeks in advance of his flight and spoke to a customer service representative to confirm that he is disabled, that he would be traveling with his own wheelchair, and that he required the use of an aisle seat and lift to access the aircraft, because he cannot walk.

The Delta representative assured him that all was noted in the company's computer and his PNR, and that he would be received and given reasonable accommodation for his disability.

The Delta flight that he was scheduled on (DL4245) was cancelled on July 26, 2012 for weather-related conditions. Mr. Kanaan was then rescheduled on a flight on a connecting flight on July 27 from Maui to Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, on DL 4110.

Upon his arrival at Nantucket Airport, Mr. Kanaan was informed by one of the flight attendants that the airline did not have the required safety equipment to bring him from his seat to the airplane door, nor did they have a lift to go down the stairs from the aircraft to the tarmac to retrieve his wheelchair.

The Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and applicable federal regulations require airlines to have such equipment available in order to accommodate disabled passengers such as Mr. Kaanan.

Delta did not.

When Mr. Kanaan asked what his options were, the flight attended said, they could not get him off the plane.

Despite a clearly visible lift at an adjacent gate, Mr. Kanaan was forced to crawl down the aisle of the airplane, down the stairs of the aircraft and across the tarmac to his wheelchair without any assistance from the crew or the use of any mandated safety equipment.

During this entire incident, no efforts were made by Delta Airlines to secure the lift of an aisle chair from Jet Blue or any other airline operating in the airport. Purportedly fearful of liability, the flight crew refused to assist Mr. Kanaan, instead serving as spectators themselves.

Once Mr. Kanaan was in his wheelchair and made it to the airport terminal without assistance, he filed a complaint and spoke with Dough Dole of Delta's Salt Lake City disability desk. He was given a reference number and was offered a US$100 voucher.

During this call Mr. Kanaan specifically and adamantly informed Mr. Dole that he would be flying out from Nantucket to return to Maui in 2 days and that he would need the proper equipment for his return trip. Mr. Dole assured Mr. Kanaan that the proper equipment was available at Nantucket airport and would be made available to Mr. Kanaan for his return trip.

Two days later Mr. Kanaan's return flight, DL4245, was again delayed. When boarding finally began, Mr. Kanaan was again informed that the necessary equipment, an aisle chair and a lift, were unavailable, but that they could provide a piece of cardboard to put down so that his clothes wouldn't get dirty.

Again, Mr. Kanaan was forced to crawl across the tarmac, up the stairs of the Delta aircraft, down the aisle, and hoist himself into his seat on the aircraft, which was physically painful. Again many passengers watched this transpire, causing grave embarrassment and a feeling of dehumanization.

It appears such complaints are nothing new to Delta. Just a year before, Delta received no less than 5,000 complaints against it and was ordered to pay record-breaking fines for this egregious mistreatment of disabled passengers.
Some of the complaints included:

- Delta left a blind woman alone in a wheelchair on a moving walkway.

- Delta failed to bring an 81-year-old man to a hotel after canceling his flight. The man had to sleep in a wheelchair.

- An elderly couple in wheelchairs missed an international flight because Delta failed to board them.

- A woman who needs a ventilator to breathe was removed from a Delta flight, which was a return flight, because the Delta flight crew inexplicably determined that her ventilator and medical equipment could not be brought to the plane.

This time Delta offered Mr. Kanaan 25,000 Skymiles as a compensation. Mr. Kanaan found this offer insulting and refused to accept it.

Mr. Kanaan was then connected with Delta's corporate headquarters. There, Mr. Kanaan was told he was speaking to the highest person available, a women named Rachel, who provided Mr. Kanaan with a corporate case number. To literally add insult to injury, Rachel offered an even smaller amount of Skymiles. When Mr. Kanaan declined, Rachel terminated the phone call, hanging up on him, saying there was nothing more Delta could or would do.

ETN today called the same number (404-773-0305) and finally was connected to a recording saying due to many complaints, Delta was unable to answer the call and to try again later.

The 5th Universal Access In Airports (UAIA)conference will take place at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare on Oct. 6-8, 2014. This biennial event, hosted by Open Doors Organization, brings together airports, airlines, service companies, suppliers and the disability community for a unique exchange of ideas on how to best meet the needs of older air travelers and those with disabilities.

Boarding an Airplane from a Wheelchair


A statement from United Spinal Association on the failure of US Republican Senators to uphold the ADA on an international level:

United Spinal Association is extremely disappointed that the Senate failed today by a vote of 61-38 to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

"Opposition to ratification of the treaty is based on several extreme assertions by the far right, including that ratifying the CRPD would endanger U.S. sovereignty and that parents would lose their ability to make decisions for their children with disabilities. These assertions are absolutely false," said Paul J. Tobin, United Spinal CEO and President.

The CRPD embodies the protections and opportunities available through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but on a global scale. CRPD is a treaty created by the United Nations that protects the rights of people living with disabilities, including: equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to justice, health, education, employment, and rehabilitation.

Ratification of the CRPD treaty is supported by over 300 disability organizations, 21 veterans organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many other national leaders and organizations.

      • CRPD would have improved access for disabled veterans and other Americans with disabilities that live, work, or travel abroad.
      • The treaty is critical to maintaining America's leadership role on disability rights and to eliminating disability discrimination throughout the world.
      • Ratification of the CRPD treaty would present the opportunity for a reaffirmation of the values inherent in the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide the forum to advance them worldwide.

Failure of the Senate to ratify the CRPD only strengthens our resolve to dispel the myths offered by the opposition and secure ratification of the CRPD in the next session of Congress. We thank those Senators who voted in favor of the CRPD for their support of rights for disabled veterans, and all people with disabilities.

Read more:

Airlines are facing a possible multi-million dollar lawsuit after a clinically obese woman died while on holiday in Hungary after she was refused a seat on three flights back to New York where she needed medical treatment.

Vilma Soltez, who weighed over 30 stone and had only one leg and used a wheelchair, died from health complications nine days after she was kicked off the first of the three flights.

She was unable to board due to issues with seat extensions and wheelchairs and other equipment that would not hold her weight.

She had travelled to her summer home in Hungary with Delta and KLM Airlines but had reportedly put on weight during her trip.

According to a report in the New York Post, the couple's travel agent had told Delta/KLM before the trip that she needed to return home on October 15 to continue with medical treatment for kidney problems and diabetes.

But her husband Janos claimed the couple were told they could not fly on their original Delta/KLM flight from Hungary because the aircraft did not have the necessary seat extension.

He said they were directed to drive to Prague for a Delta/KLM flight home. At Prague, Soltez could not be transferred to the flight because equipment could not be found that would hold her weight.

Their New York travel agent then found them another flight with Lufthansa, via Frankfurt, but this was not viable for the same reasons despite three seats being available for the passenger.

According to reports, a local fire crew were bought in to help move her into the seats but they could not lift her out of her wheelchair.

Delta, KLM and Lufthansa have issued statements explaining their reasons for being unable to accommodate her.

Lufthansa said: "Lufthansa, together with its local partners, fire brigade and technical experts at Budapest Airport, tried its utmost to accommodate this passenger on board our flight from Budapest.

"After several, time consuming attempts it was decided that for the safety of this passenger and the over 140 fellow passengers, Lufthansa had to deny transportation of the passenger. Safe and reliable operations are Lufthansa's paramount priorities at all times."

Lawyers are now considering legal action against the airlines for violating laws protecting the disabled.


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