Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, recently proposed a new bill in parliament to make air travel for disabled people easier. This would cover:
- The establishment of requirements about parking at airports for people with disabilities
- Requiring airports and airlines to report steps taken to improve accessibility
- A named person to be responsible for air passengers with disabilities
- The need to make provision about the design and adaptation of aircraft to meet the needs of passengers with disabilities
Making flying more accessible for all
The aim of this new Bill will be to make flying more accessible for all. First, it would mandate a minimum proportion of disabled parking bays in airports and make the industry look at how to make dropping off disabled passengers much easier than it is currently.
Secondly, if the disabled person needs a carer in order to travel, the cost of the carer’s ticket should be covered by the airline, because it should not cost a disabled person double to travel.
Thirdly, staff at airports and on planes must be better trained so that the whole journey – from car park, to check-in, to getting off the plane – should be painless and dignified.
Looking at aircraft design
Wheelchairs should be kept safe during the flight, with as many as possible stored in the cabin rather than in the hold. If wheelchairs must go in the hold and are damaged, there needs to be compensation that reflects the actual cost of the damage. Currently, that is limited to £!500.
Finally, there should be a named person responsible for a disabled passenger for their whole journey – from the moment they check in to collecting their luggage on arrival. This would ensure that any problems encountered can be more easily rectified.
In the longer term, the bill proposes that aircraft should be designed with disabled passengers in mind—for instance, with disabled toilets and enough space for all wheelchairs to be stored in the cabin.
The bill is due to be read a second time on Nov 23rd 2018. Let’s hope it passes without any problems