Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vanilla Air makes a wheelchair user to drag himself in to flight; refuses any physical help in absence of ambulift.

Airline apologizes for making wheelchair user climb up boarding ramp on his hands

TOKYO: A Japanese airline said Wednesday it has apologized for making a wheelchair user hoist himself up a staircase from the tarmac to board his flight. 

Hideto Kijima, a vivd traveler and President of Japan Accessible Tourism Center,  faced the problem earlier this month while returning to Osaka from the southern island of Amami with friends. 
Image of Hideto Kijima, President - Japan Accessible Tourism Centre
Mr. Hideto Kijima, President,
Japan Accessible Tourism Centre

Vanilla Air, the budget affiliate of Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways, told him before boarding on June 5 that the small airport requires the use of stairs and has no lift to safely carry a disabled person onto the plane. Vanilla also refused to let his friends carry him in his wheelchair or separately. 

Kijima, 44, who is paralyzed from the waist down, wrote on his blog that he got out of the wheelchair, resisted airline staff who tried to stop him and hoisted himself up the stairs with his arms, a process that took several minutes. 

"I just had to ignore them and keep moving up, or I could not go back to Osaka,'' he wrote. One of his friends helped push him, and at the top he was put into a wheelchair and taken to his seat. "I've never thought I would be refused to fly for not being able to walk,'' he said. "It's a human rights violation.'' 

Vanilla said it has apologized to Kijima and that new lifts are being installed. 

"We apologized to him for the unpleasant experience,'' Vanilla spokesman Akihiro Ishikawa said. "We also explained that we are taking measures to improve our service.'' 

Japanese media reported on his ordeal on Wednesday. 

Kijima, an advocate of barrier-free traveling, who alsoheads the Japan Accessible Tourism Center, a nonprofit in the city of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture - the center that provides foreign tourists with disabilities who need assistance with information about travel in Japan- says he has visited 158 countries and used 200 airports, and has never been rejected before. He says he is not asking for fancy equipment but just some assistance. 

Ishikawa said Amami is the only airport on Vanilla's 14 international and domestic routes without lifts for wheelchair users.


1. Economic Times 
2. Japan Times

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

American Airline label a flyer with disability (a double amputee) as 'intoxicated"; called police

In the instant case, the American Airlines is facing a lawsuit after it called cops to escort a flyer with disability - a double amputee, labeling him "intoxicated' after forgetting his wheelchair.

As the American Airlines plane full of passengers looked on, two law enforcement officers escorted Mr. Michael Mennella — a double amputee with no feet — down the aisle and into the airport. They told him he was under arrest for extreme intoxication. But soon enough, the officers realized Mennella was sober. He'd simply hobbled down the aisle to ask for a drink on a flight that departed Miami without the wheelchair the airline had promised him.

That's what Mennella, a businessman traveling for work, claims in a new lawsuit that's sure to fuel more anger at airlines for horribly mistreating their passengers.

"As demonstrated by police-administered field tests, and as revealed in an official field report, Mr. Mennella was not intoxicated," says the suit, filed in federal court in Miami. "Instead, he was an innocent victim of AA's brutish misconduct."

In an emailed statement, American Airlines declined to comment on the specifics of Mennella's case but said it is committed to providing a positive and safe travel experience to all of its customers and looks forward to addressing his concerns.

Mennella's ordeal began August 28, 2016, when he arrived at Miami International Airport and discovered that American had not reserved a wheelchair he requested. A Florida resident, he was headed to Las Vegas with some colleagues for a conference.

Since losing his feet in a car accident six years ago, Mennella has sought assistance boarding flights. When American Airlines told him no wheelchair was available for the flight to Vegas, he was forced to struggle down the jet bridge, which caused pain to flare up in his legs.

Mennella asked for water to take his medicine, the lawsuit says, but a flight attendant refused. After asking several times, he walked on his stumps to the back of the plane to ask another attendant for help. His request went ignored, and he struggled back to his seat.

American Airlines personnel told passengers seated near Mennella, including his colleagues, that he was "a drunk" and that the plane was being diverted to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The airline had told airport police that Mennella was "intoxicated to the point of needing medical attention," according to a police report included in the lawsuit.

"The law enforcement officers proceeded to tell Mr. Mennella that he was being arrested for a felony due to his intoxication, and that the severity of his crime merited a lengthy incarceration," the lawsuit says.

But once the officers began speaking with Mennella, they concluded he was not under the influence of any kind of substance, police reports indicate. He was released and had to arrange for a different flight to Las Vegas.

Mennella's suit claims American defamed him and damaged his reputation by calling him a drunk and taking him off the plane. It also argues the airline's actions were negligent.

In an email included in the lawsuit, an American Airlines customer service representative told Mennella that the flight had to be diverted due to his "disruptive and unruly behavior" and lewd language and that the pilot made the decision "for the safety of all passengers."

"We believe our pilot made the correct decision in this situation," the email said, "and we apologize if you feel otherwise."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Frontier Airlines Refused a Blind Flyer to Board the Flight with Child in Florida, USA

The Tampa Bay Times reports that a legally blind flyer was refused by Frontier Airlines to board a flight with his 18-month-old grand daughter.

As per the report, Kliphton Miller tried to board a Frontier flight from Tampa to Las Vegas with the child on May 23, 2017. The 44-year-old Miller asked for help getting on the plane once he reached his gate. That's when airline employees began to question his ability to watch over the young child during the trip, according to Miller.

"I frequently fly with my grand daughter on other airlines and had flown on Frontier with her before too, but they still denied me access," Miller told the newspaper. "I was denied because I am blind. They told me I was a liability."

Frontier employees told Miller that he would be a liability in the case of an emergency, he said. They said it was against their corporate policy to let him on board.

"I would have been fine on the plane," Miller told The Tampa Bay Times. "Usually flight attendants will help me to the bathroom if I need to change her, but I can do it myself. I was a single dad for 10 years before I got married, and then I was a stay-at-home dad. I am completely capable." 

Frontier later apologized and rescheduled his trip to Las Vegas free of charge. Richard Oliver, a spokesman with Frontier, called the incident a "customer service failure."

For the complete news please visit CBS News weblink

Saturday, April 8, 2017

UK enforces changes in Equality Act effective 06 Apr 17 that makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users

Dear colleagues,

In UK the Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra, in a change to the law which comes into force today (6 April 2017).

From today taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:

  • transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

We are building a country that works for everyone, and part of that is ensuring disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities as anyone else – including when it comes to travel. People who use wheelchairs are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.

The changes apply to England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.

Drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1,000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.

Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:

Today’s change in legislation is positive news, as we know that disabled people often have to rely on taxis where accessible public transport isn’t an option.

Taxi drivers can provide a vital service in getting wheelchair users from A to B so they are able to maintain their livelihoods and play an active part in society. Today creates a level playing field for both drivers and passengers.
Transport Accessibility.
Taxi drivers can lose their licence and face a fine of up to 1000 Pond
if they fail to transport wheelchairs
The law now makes clear the rights for wheelchair users and the responsibilities of taxi drivers, including the penalties that will occur if they aren’t observed. Wheelchair users are frequent customers of taxi services, so instead of being apprehensive of these new rules, taxi companies should promote their accessibility credentials.

The new requirements complement those already in place to prevent discrimination against users of assistance dogs and underline the government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks which work for everyone.

The government will be consulting on a draft Accessibility Action Plan later this year, which will seek to address the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing all modes of public transport.

Source: Gov[dot]UK

Easyjet Pilot offloads Deaf-Blind independent flyer for last 35 years

Dear Colleagues,

This discriminatory incident being reported from Scotland where a Deaf-blind flyer Mr. Frankie Thomson, 52 who has been travelling independently for past 35 years and uses a guide dog for mobility, was escorted off a plane moments before the take-off when the pilot refused to let him fly unaccompanied for ‘safety reasons’.

The incident occurred on an Easyjet Edinburgh to Gatwick flight last month and has left Mr Thomson confused. ‘I could feel people watching me wondering what I’d done. I felt people were talking about me,’ he said through a guide communicator.

‘I wasn’t embarrassed or anything – just confused and thinking what was going on. I’ve never had any problems before.’ After being escorted off the plane Mr Thomson was put in a cab and taken back to his girlfriend Katie Swinton’s flat in Loanhead, Midlothian.

She was the one who booked the tickets for him in October for a weekend visiting friends in London and she had requested special assistance.

‘I was so stressed and upset. They asked me to contact them on a phone number but how could I? I’m deaf,’ Ms Swinton added. Mr Thomson’s case has been taken up by SNP Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard.

Easyjet has apologised and a spokeswoman said they offered him assistance and free flights the next day for him and a companion. He will also receive a refund.

The spokeswoman said: ‘Easyjet is sorry that Mr Thomson was unable to travel on his flight and understand how upsetting this would have been for him. ‘The captain took the decision to offload him prior to departure due to concerns over his welfare after he was unable to communicate with the crew about the safety procedures. ‘The safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is always Easyjet’s highest priority.’

Mr Thomson is deaf from birth and a degenerative eye condition has left him partially sighted.

Source: Metro

Friday, January 20, 2017

French Court fines EasyJet for refusing disabled passenger citing security reasons

Dear Colleagues,

A French court on 19 Jan 2016, fined British low-cost airline EasyJet 60,000 euros ($64,000) for having refused to allow a disabled passenger to board for "security" reasons.

The criminal court in Bayonne, Southern France, heard that staff at the budget carrier refused to allow Joseph Etcheveste, 55, to board an EasyJet flight in Biarritz in July 2010 because he was "unaccompanied".

"EasyJet refused to let my client board because it deemed there were security problems. They still have not been able to explain what they were," said his lawyer Anne-Marie Mendiboure.

It was not the first time Easyjet has fallen foul of French discrimination laws. In December 2015 the company was fined 70,000 euros for refusing access to three handicapped people for the same reasons. There were also similar rulings in the two previous years. The airline said it had merely imposed "internal rules".

EasyJet lawyer Maud Marian told AFP she was not surprised at the court judgement while stressing that the airline "never intended to discriminate against the plaintiff" and was unlikely to appeal the decision.

Source: Emirates247,com