Dealing with huge challenges
Much more needed
Two British women are calling for airports and airlines to establish expert advisory groups in a bid to change the way airline passengers with disabilities are treated in the UK. Model Sherrill Semple, who has hereditary spastic paraparesis, and wheelchair user, nurse and journalist Bethann Siviter, would like to see expert groups in place – such as those appointed by London Underground and British Rail – plus trained designated staff members at airports and on board airlines, who are aware of the challenges people with disabilities face when travelling by air.
Echoing sentiments expressed by disabled passengers to Runway Girl Network in the fall of last year, Semple and Siviter list a catalog of horror stories drawn from personal experience. Semple explains, “I don’t like asking for special assistance as I’ve been treated so badly when I’ve received it.” Her condition means that her muscles freeze up painfully and she becomes fatigued easily, so she now asks for a wheelchair when she flies. She cites agents not speaking to her once she’s in the chair, security officers asking her to get out and walk through screening, and, worst, being parked up alone and unable to move in front of the air bridge door for an hour before an airplane boarded.
Siviter, meanwhile, tells of a 2014 journey where she complained about being forced to wait apart from her husband with other disabled travelers. When she asked to join him, she says the flight attendant told her she was “good at being disabled” and to “focus on that”, while the attendant sorted out the “normal passengers”. On that flight Siviter watched powerless from the cabin as a ground support agent dropped and smashed her wheelchair, a.k.a. her legs, for which she received no compensation, despite complaining.
SOURCE: Runway Girl Network, Aug 4 2016
Call for UK carriers to stop clipping disabled passengers’ wings
Author Liz Moscrop