On Tuesday, NASDAQ-100 listed online travel giant Expedia issued a statement announcing the adoption of revised information for customers with disabilities.
Reduced Mobility Rights on-going investigation into online travel agents websites found only two sites out of a total of 27 sites reviewed to date in compliance with Regulation 1107/2006, the law protecting the rights of passengers with disabilities traveling by air.
Article 4.3 of the Regulation mandates that airlines and their agent shall make publicly available the safety rules that apply to the carriage of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, as well as any restrictions on their carriage or on that of mobility equipment. Article 6.1 of the Regulation requires airlines, their agents, and tour operators ensure receipt of notifications of the need for assistance made by disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility at the time of booking.
When assessed on 31 July 2013, the popular Expedia website was found not making mention of required information for passengers with special needs. A search in the FAQs section using the search terms “disability” and “disabled” returned no result.
On Tuesday, Expedia issued the following statement. "At Expedia, we are committed to providing relevant travel choices and information for all consumers. We have reviewed the points raised by Reduced Mobility Rights and take this matter seriously. We recognise that the level of support needed by reduced mobility passengers can vary greatly. At the same time the available services and processes for supporting reduced mobility passengers varies according to the route and airline, so we recommend that customers check this information directly with the airline they plan to travel with. Through our current FAQs we provide guidance on the type of information the airline may need to know as well as how to notify our hotel partners of any special requirements customers may have. This information can be found at http://support.expedia.co.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/373/ and http://support.expedia.co.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/367 ."
The Expedia spokesperson noted that an option for customers to request special assistance is also displayed in a drop down box in the flight booking path for many airlines and that the online travel agent is looking into how we can offer this for all airlines.
"Having reviewed the points raised in the ReducedMobility.eu article, we have also implemented further FAQ guidance on our site, which can be seen through the following links: Can I get special assistance for my flight? Can I get special assistance for my hotel stay? What is a disability seat?
We have also adapted our FAQs to ensure that all guidance on reduced mobility matters appears under general searches for “disability” and “disabled” .We would be very interested in talking to Reduced Mobility Rights about how we can further improve the information we provide for our reduced mobility customers."
Reduced Mobility Rights findings are cause for concern for the UK CAA, national enforcement body for Regulation 1107/2006. "We are concerned about the reports of potential failure to comply with various elements of equality legislation highlighted by Reduced Mobility Rights, and considering the issues raised,” a CAA spokesperson said.
Reduced Mobility Rights is liaising with the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Commission General Directorate for Mobility and Transport to raise awareness on the findings and ensure appropriate actions are taken to amend this disconcerting situation. The investigation continues.
About the author
Providing Civil Aviation authorities, airports, and airlines strategic guidance, practical advice, and cutting edge solutions to support the evolving needs of passengers with special needs is his mission statement. Roberto is a member of the UK Civil Aviation Authority Access To Air Travel Working Group and the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group.