Recently published Guidelines on the application of EU Regulation1107/2006 recommend airlines to provide free seat to carers of severely disabled passengers.
The European Commission recently published interpretative guidelines on the application of the law protecting the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
Among this set of guidelines, the European Commission clearly states its point of view on key factor for severely disabled passengers.
Airlines may require disabled passengers to be accompanied for safety reasons. However, there is no clarity as to the cost of the seat for the carer.
"Where the air carrier requires disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to be accompanied, the Commission services recommend that the seat be offered for free or at a significantly discounted rate," the EU guidelines explain.
In the weeks prior to the preparation of the first draft of the guidelines, Reduced Mobility Rights submitted the following suggestion to the EU Transport Cabinet: "if the airline requires the PRM to travel with a companion, the airline should give a deep discounted ticket. Deep discounted tickets, up to 75% off their face value, are already available to crew members and their families and other individual."
"This will be a very valuable input in the context of the elaboration of guidelines from the European Commission for the application of the Regulation," a spokesperson for the Transport Cabinet said.
Although not binding, the recommendation is an incentive to promote the issue among airlines.
Currently only Canada has legislation in place that sanctions that a required accompanying person shall only pay taxes.
Outside Canada, each airline makes its own procedure. British Airways, Air New Zealand, Emirates do not offer discounted air fares to carers; Air France offers travel companions of disabled passengers discounted air fares on selected domestic flights only. EVA Air offers a free ticket for the transportation of the accompanying carer on EVA operated flights.
Australian flag carrier Qantas has one of the most liberal systems in place for domestic travel within Australia; passengers who require an assistant or carer to travel are eligible for a reduced fare for both themselves and one carer. Passengers must hold a Qantas Carer Concession photographic identification card, issued by the National Information Communication Awareness Network (NICAN).
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