Disabled people 'humiliated' when they travel by air
Published 24/10/2012 | 00:01
Disabled people risk "hurt and humiliation" when they travel by air, according to a report.
Some have even had to urinate in bottles on flights due to inaccessible aircraft toilets, the report from the Trailblazers group of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign said.
The group called on airlines to "clean up their act" in dealing with disabled passengers.
Later today, the group is meeting airlines, MPs and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK to discuss the treatment of disabled air travellers.
A survey of young disabled air passengers showed:
90% of wheelchair users are unable to use airline toilets and therefore have to avoid drinking before or during flights;
60% of disabled passengers say their wheelchairs have been damaged when travelling with an airline;
60% said they felt unsafe when they transfer from a wheelchair to an airline seat;
50% have problems related to disability when booking airline tickets.
Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers officer Tanvi Vyas said: "The airline industry needs to catch up with other mainstream modes of transport in order to cater for disabled passengers.
"Our investigation has found that the process of travelling by air is for many a source of anxiety and embarrassment, regularly leading to holidays being ruined, equipment being damaged and disabled people being put off flying for good."
She went on: "This report should be a wake-up call on the need to drastically overhaul services in order to meet disabled customers' basic needs, from booking a ticket to going to the toilet.
"We need airlines, aviation authorities and airports to stop hiding behind inconsistent and outdated policies and woolly responses around safety testing. If we can fly a man to the moon, we can put a wheelchair-accessible toilet on an aeroplane.
"It is time for disabled customers to be able to trust airlines and to feel confident when flying."
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