Yesterday, we looked at some of the deplorable problems faced by travelers in a wheelchair on airlines. Today, we’re happy to bring you some recent developments that just may make your future flights a fabulous experience!
After we posted our article on Facebook, a gentleman named Scott commented with the suggestion that authorities should “fine these companies” that don’t properly accommodate their passengers with disabilities. They heard you, Scott! It was announced just yesterday that 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.
According to the 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.
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said, “All air travelers deserve to be treated equally and with respect, and this includes persons in wheelchairs and other passengers with disabilities.” He goes on to say, “We will continue to make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly.”
No word about treating every wheelchair and mobility device with respect, but at least it’s a start. And as wonderful as that news might be, there’s even better news! Check it out!
This proof-of-concept airline seat developed by British transport designers Priestmangoode (see the seat in the locked position in the top photo) would solve a number of problems for flyers with reduced mobility. Called ‘Air Access’, this seat could potentially be installed into all aisle seats on an aircraft. Here’s what that means:
- There would be more seating available for passengers with disabilities, and mobility-impaired passengers would get to sit with their traveling companions in larger groups, particularly on wide-body planes.
- Using the toilet becomes infinitely easier, because all you’ll need is assistance to unlock the seat and be wheeled up the aisle.
- The seat pad is removable, so passengers with a spinal cord injury and other conditions can sit on their own specifically designed cushion for maximum comfort during the flight.
- Because it integrates seamlessly into the plane’s interior, anyone can sit in the seat when it’s not being used by a passenger with a disability.
Though not exactly as convenient as in the cartoon above, this seat comes pretty close! Air Access is comprised of two elements: a detachable wheelchair into which passengers are assisted at their departure gate so they can be easily transported on and off the aircraft, and a fixed-frame aisle seat already on board. The wheelchair has 360-degree, pivoting wheels so it slides easily into place and locks securely. It looks just like a regular airline seat. At the end of your flight, the wheelchair unlocks from the frame, and you exit the aircraft as effortlessly as you boarded.
Watch the video to see how this wonderful solution works! We can’t wait to read your comments!