New Rights for Disabled Travellers
Disabled travellers receive more assistance
By TTM on 16 July 2008 in News
Disabled air passengers are to receive greater assistance when travelling through Europe from July 26, due to a new EU regulation.
The legislation will make it the responsibility of the airport to provide assistance not only for disabled people, but all travellers with reduced mobility, from arrival, to check in and through to departures and boarding. Previously this was the responsibility of both airports and airlines.
Leonard Cheshire Disability has campaigned for disabled air travellers to enjoy the same rights as anyone else when using airports and airlines. The Charity supports the new regulation as a step towards stamping out the lack of opportunity that disabled people experience in everyday life.
In a survey for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Now Boarding campaign, over half (61%) of the respondents had experienced difficulties boarding a plane. And nearly three quarters of those disabled travellers (74%) felt that airport and airline staff did not always understand their impairment or know how to meet their needs.
National Campaigns Officer, Katie Turner, said: “As our Now Boarding campaign showed disabled people are still facing barriers when using air travel, when they should enjoy the same opportunities that most of us take for granted.
“We want to see air travel providers take this new directive seriously and equip their staff with the skills and understanding to support disabled customers. They need to ensure that disabled air travellers are satisfied with the journeys and feel confident to fly again.”
Disabled passengers will now be able to raise their concerns with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure the proper enforcement of the regulation.
The regulation could also prove to be a key factor in the transformation of air travel customer relations. And with disabled people having the potential economic power to spend around £80 billion*, it means the air travel industry need to react quickly and efficiently to the new changes.
Andy Wright, manager and owner of one of the UK ’s few specialist travel companies for disabled people, Accessible Travel & Leisure, commented on the new regulation: “I truly believe this is a positive step forward and any attempt to smooth the process and remove the anxiety for disabled travellers is wholeheartedly welcomed.
“With over 10 million registered disabled people living in the UK , and many others with mobility difficulties, this audience has been largely ignored over recent years, with as little as only two and a half million known to travel regularly. Therefore, I am hoping this new legislation will give confidence and enable the remaining seven and a half million to consider travelling overseas.”
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