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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
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Booking Flights!

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Hi everyone,

I have just booked my flights for a vacation soon. As usual I will be using my prosthesis and taking w/chair and crutch's. After I booked (on-line, E-Ticket) I contacted the Airline Customer Services Dept (Special needs) to advise them I will be a w/chair user, so they are aware and the appropriate assistance will be available for me. I did this the last time I booked with this flight company, and it worked out great.

However this time when I spoke to Customer Services, they had to check the amount of disabled people and w/chair passengers already booked on the flight! They checked, no probs.

I was a bit intrigued by this so I asked why the need to check how many disabled/w/chair passengers were booked?

This is a summery and example of what I was told:

Basically, the good news is more and more people with disabilities and w/chair users are flying.

The bad news is that due to Health and Safety, and the amount of w/chairs converted into weight and space, has caused a situation whereby they have to limit the amount of disabled pasengers on each flight.

Imagine if 10 w/chair users are booked onto a flight, of 100 passengers and each of the w/chair users has an electric w/chair. The average weight of these is 60 kilo's (guessing here), so the plane has an extra 600 kilo weight, also there would be a problem with space in the hold!

That is a very loose example of the situation.

So if you do book a flight with any airline (UK) phone customer services imediately after you make the booking and make any special needs request before booking your accomodation.

The Customer services told me they havn't had a situation yet when too many disabled passengers are booked onto the same flight, but they know it's going to happen sooner rather than later!

Best as ever

Steve

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Hmmmm, could introduce some very interesting discrimination charges! I mean, a disabled person might be refused because the limit has been reached while other 'able-bodied' people are still given seats!

Yet another case of airlines inconveniencing their customers so that they can make more money (I'm thinking of the regular practice of overbooking here).

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I will ALWAYS make sure the airline knows several things when I book a flight. One, I'm a disabled passenger. Two, I travel on crutches and not a wheelchair. Three, I don't need a wheelchair to get around the airports (as a matter of fact it bugs me to no end), but I do need assistance from with any carry-on bags I may have, though I usually stick everything in a backpack, which I can carry around no problem. Four, I will not be caught dead without my crutches REALLY nearby, so if they try to take them, they'd better make sure my seat is right next to wherever they're storing them. Five... I hate airline peanuts.

As far as limiting the number of disabled passengers traveling with heavy wheelchairs goes, I can understand if they limit the number of heavy power wheelchairs on board to, say, 15 (if they are 60 kg.) because that would be an extra ton or so of weight they'd have to deal with and that's can cause real problems with weight distribution and takeoff fuel load on the plane, specially when flying out of higher-altitude airports, but I wonder if they'll ever have 15 power chair users book the same flight?

If they're limiting it to, say, 5 disabled users on one flight, period, that is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Their mobility aids, be it manual wheelchairs, crutches or whatever they are, are nowhere near heavy enough to cause a problem with anything other than luggage and cargo space below deck, and the only reason they'd put that limit into place would be losing income to carry the chairs. Not nice.

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I wasn't given details of what the 'limit' was, regards either disabled people or w/chairs.

I read somewhere ages ago that there are moves to 'modernise' the Athens (I think) Treaty (1947) regarding cargo etc. Also, I understand the EU is reviewing the requirments of aircraft meeting 'new' disability laws. Some of the 'things' put forward are aisle's that accomodate w/chairs and toilets! Giving that some serious thought I doubt it will ever happen.

So IMO at the end of the day they will not make laws requiring w/chair aisles etc, so airlines will not be breaking the law!

As regards discrimination, difficult.

At the present time and as I understand after October the 4th this year, Transport is not wholly included in the DDA 1998. So I dont think this situation would be covered.

Further to this, if it is discrimination then it might be that the complainant would have to finance the complaint! Which would involve a Lawyer and a whole package of aggravation to go with it. i.e. prove you are disabled as prescribed in the DDA 1998 legislation. (A lower limb amputee is given as an example of a disabled person for the purposes of the act.) But the Defendant Lawyers will mentally and financialy wear you down!

The bottem line of this IMO is the Airline should state very clearly at the time of booking that they limit the number of disabled people and w/chairs. Further that a 'section' for special needs should be included in the booking form, with the opportunity to explain the type of special needs required.

As ever

Steve

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Hi folks

the following is a news item in Disability Now magazine, September 2004, page 8, heading 'Ignorance revealed as deaf flyers barred'.

The National Deaf Childrens Society has challenged airlines to stop discriminating against disabled passengers after a group of 23 teenagers was thrown off a plane at Heathrow airport because they were deaf. The students who were flying to the Canary Islands to celebrate finishing their A level's, were escorted off the Iberia Airlines flight after being told that too many deaf people were flying together. They were allowed on the flight the next day..........

Now that seems contradictory, can't fly one day but can the next?

But as I said in an earlier part of this thread, make sure the customer services are aware of any special needs and also even if you don't have special needs, make them aware that you are disabled or have a disability.

As other recent cases that have been reported show, even though you do inform customer services, it still does not mean that your special needs request or that you are disabled or have a disability are acknowledged at the time of and during the flight!

Apparently the incident of the case quoted above is not covered by the UK Disabled Discrimination Act.

So before I fly to Spain soon, I will confirm with customer services that they are aware of my needs and I am disabled.

best as ever

Steve

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I remember taking Continental (us) and having major issues. My mom told them I was disabled, but would not be bringing a chair. They were supposed to have one of those people with the cars that they drive inside at each of my transfer points so I didn't have to walk as far. On the first leg of the trip it wasn't too bad. The car was generally waiting. On the return trip it sucked. I don't know how many know, but Texas has a HUGE airport and our next gate was like a mile away. We only had like 10 min. and there was no way I could make it (the car wasn't there or on it's way). My mom tried to get an employee with an emty wheelchair to take me to the next gate...he said "i'm on lunch". :angry:

My aunt was with us and she is a biker chick...she got angry, went up to the guy and asked to use the chair..he said the same..."on lunch". So she took it :o !!! She told him what gate he could pick it up at. Go auntie :D !!!

Then at the next gate the boarding flight attendant was rude...You know how they let old fogies and disabled peeps on first...well when we got down to the door of the plane he said "so I suppose I'll have to carry you on" (I was still in wheel chair.) I said no I can walk...and he said "I'd like to see that, I don't believe you." SO being the spunky 17 yr old that I was I stood up and walked my butt onto the plane, while his jaw was dropped.

We complained to the CSR of continental and the re-emberssed us $500 :D !!! All of the tickets (5) originally cost $510 (my mom got a sweet deal).

The next flight was fine. And my flight after that on a different airline. But it just goes to show, that even when you tell them you are disabled...they can still be insensitive.

:ph34r:

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ladycapulet,

Wow! I can't believe people were that insensitive! You must have been flying through Dallas! :lol: Next time, fly through Houston, the best airport in the US for handicapped folks. Reason being is that there are so many great hospitals there, people come from all over the world to be treated. I myself made 11 trips to MD Anderson in Houston in an effort to save my leg. Each time, I flew Continental and the airline was fabulous. I was even upgraded to first class (no charge) on several occasions when there was room. I'm glad you complained to the airline. If they don't know what they did wrong, they can't fix it and it will benefit the rest of us down the road. Also glad to see that the bad experience didn't stop you from traveling!

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Okay, be prepared for a really silly question. You are taking a flight and are traveling with w/c, crutches and prosthesis. Are you taking the crutches to get around on the plane or are you taking them for when your leg gets tired.

Please excuse what I know is such a basic question but I am still in the fitting stage of my first prosthesis. My occupational therapist and I have not gotten into this yet but I have a lot of questions to ask her now.

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Hi L/Rita

definately not a silly question.

I have a limited time/stamina range when wearing a prosthesis, which is approx 4 to 5 hours.

I wear my prosthesis to travel to the airport. It takes about 2 hours driving and then another 2 hours after checking in before boarding the plane, the flight is 2 and a half hours. Then from landing and getting out of the airport and on to my destination is another 2 and a half hours. That is without any flight delays.

So by the time I get to my destination I will have had the leg on for 9 hours, by which time my stump is aching and painfull and I will not be able to use my prosthesis for several days because of this.

So when I get to the airport I use my wheelchair get to the plane. Walk onto the plane using my crutch's and then walk off the plane using my crutch's to my wheelchair. Then use my wheelchair to get to the transport to take me to my destination.

By doing it this way, I 'walk' very little, so I don't have any problems when I travel. Then I use my prosthesis with only one crutch when I go out and about.

This works for me, as an above knee amp with heart probs etc.

It's really a question of finding out your limits and what is best for you.

Remeber the three 'P's:

Plan

Prepare

Participate

By doing this, and being aware of time/stamina I am able to join in and enjoy life.

best regards

Steve

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