Tuesday, November 19, 2013

US Airways fined 1.2 million for disability discrimination

Dear Colleagues,

In a recent development the US Department of Transportation has fined US Airways $1.2 million for failure to provide wheelchair assistance to passengers with disabilities in Philadelphia and Charlotte, NC.  This fine is one of the largest ever assessed in a disability case by the Department.

I had shared in my last post titled "Fellow passenger's leave aircraft in protest as Captain offloads blind traveller with guide dog" wherein showing solidarity with the blind passenger with a seeing dog, the entire group of travellers had left the aircraft in protest in the instant case.  

According to the US Transportation department’s regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are required to provide free, prompt wheelchair assistance when requested by passengers with disabilities. That includes helping passengers move between gates and make connections to other flights. 

Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways said in a telephonic interview to Forbes that the airline is committed to serving passengers with disabilities and had implemented many improvements to its disability assistance program since 2011 and 2012 complaints. 

These improvements included: new airport signage and handheld devices, tablets, dispatching software that allow employees to track the need and wait times of customers and availability of personal and wheelchairs, a new toll free number, more customer assistance reps and managers and easier website access and an upgraded reservation system to ensure that requests are automatically transferred if a customer's itinerary changes.

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