Airlines and airports alike have been called to improve their treatment of passengers with disabilities by a Royal Commission into disability.
Two workshops were held in November last year with key stakeholders including representatives from disability organisations and famous individuals living with disabilities present.
Submissions and reports from the workshops identified cases of disabled travellers being discriminated against according to the chair of the Royal Commission and former federal court judge Ronald Sackville.
“The experiences of people with disability include damage to wheelchairs not rectified by airlines, being dropped on the floor because the hoist that accommodates wheelchairs is not used correctly, limited access to safe ramps and discrimination against people who rely on assistance dogs,” he said.
Sackville has made a request to airlines and airports to make changes to steer the travel experience in a more inclusive direction.
“The Royal Commission’s terms of reference require us to investigate how Australia can promote a more inclusive society for people with disability,” he said.
One case that exemplifies the treat is that of Craig Nolan, who was asked to leave a Qatar airlines flight after notifying flight staff he would require assistance to get to the bathroom after having to check his wheelchair in and being placed in an aisle seat.
“Had they listened they would have realised I only needed help to be pushed from my chair to the toilet, which is part of their job description. I wasn’t asking for help in the plane or in the bathroom,” Nolan told The Guardian.
In response to the commissions requests James Goodwin, chief executive, Australian airports association’s said:
“Airports continue to work with other parts of the industry – including government agencies that operate at airports — and stakeholders to share information so we can continue to promote inclusive and consistent practices.”
Qantas and Jetstar also released a joint statement in response saying they are, “working hard to improve the experience for customers with accessibility needs.”
Virgin added: “We know how important it is to ensure we make airline travel inclusive and accessible for all our guests.”
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