Airlines are losing passengers who need help flying

The Arrivals and Departure Board lists several flight cancellations at Tampa International Airport before the airport closed at 5 p.m. today ahead of Hurricane Ian on September 27, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.

The Arrivals and Departure Board lists several flight cancellations at Tampa International Airport before the airport closed at 5 p.m. today ahead of Hurricane Ian on September 27, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
picture: Brian R. Smith/AFP (Getty Images)

All passengers traveling after the COVID lockdown I noticed staffing problems at every level Slow down the process, but there is no traveler more affected than those who need help getting to their destinations. Flying in different capacities is a painful, dehumanizing and sometimes life-threatening experience.

Just in time for the holiday travel season, CNN Put together a flight status report for Americans who need special assistance at the airport, and boy, is it grim!:

Disabilities affect approximately one in five of the population and there are many passengers who use so-called ‘special assistance’ when navigating airports.

This could be someone with poor eyesight who needs to be directed to the gate, someone with sensory issues who needs assistance at vulnerabilities like security or during boarding, or a passenger with a bad knee who can walk to the gate but can’t take steps .

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), approximately 27 million passengers with disabilities traveled through US airports in 2019.

And with a system already under stress, the results can be devastating.

[…]

In June, a passenger who booked private assistance at London’s Gatwick Airport died when he decided to make his way to the terminal without assistance rather than wait for help. A staff member arrived at the gate to transfer three passengers to a carriage, and had already taken the first person when the man decided to walk. The airport has launched an investigation into the accident.

Underserved people say lack of workers, lack of customization to each unique passenger, and lack of training are the main reasons why abuse has already increased.

“It’s definitely gotten worse since the pandemic,” says Roberto Castiglione, director of the company. Reduced travel rightsthat advocates for disabled travelers.

“Staff shortage not only has an impact on inadequacy [assistance-dedicated] agent,” he says. “Wherever airports have a shortage of security staff, there are very long lines to go through.”

Anyone who, sometimes, cannot stand for hours—whether elderly, pregnant, or ill—must call for help, adding additional stress to an understaffed system.

[…]

For Carrie Ann Lightley – who has wanted to travel from her native UK to Australia for eight years, but feels “terrified” – breaking her chair isn’t the only thing to worry about.

“The problem is the process and the training – ultimately [assistance staff] They are not trained to take care of humans, but to carry baggage.

“I don’t feel like I’m getting equal service to others. I pay the same rate as everyone else but can’t even get to the toilet independently. Not a week goes by without a headline about help failing, but we’re not seen as an important enough customer group.” .

Once the plane lands, The problems are endless. Delayed flights mean that passengers who need assistance could be the last to board the plane, which may happen sporadic Their handbags are life-saving. Airplanes are not required to have ADA-compliant bathrooms. The Department of Transportation suggested a possible rule requiring new aircrafto Provide accessible bathrooms… in 20 years.

Getting off the plane is not the easiest. There seems to be a story at least once a week this year about a disabled person left on a plane For hours or stranded in airports after their wheelchair or important access equipment We got lost or Severely damaged.

It’s all heartbreaking. We all need to demand better from airlines. Read CNNThe full report is here.

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