While legacy and low cost EU carriers invest into providing better services for disabled people, alternative airlines take the opposite road.
At the start of Learning Disability Week 2013 (#LDWeek13) we take a closer look at the conditions of carriage for passengers with special needs of alternative airlines, less known legacy and low cost carriers usually offering cheaper fares than mainstream airlines.
The website AlternativeAirlines.com is the starting point of our research. The site is owned and operated by Flight Directors.com Ltd. The latter operates a number of dedicated portals for alternative airlines (click to see example – opens a new window). These portals are replicas of the official carriers’ websites and allow passengers to book flights directly.
The common denominator of all these portals is that they do not provide any kind of mandatory information for passengers with disabilities. This is a breach of the air travel Equality law, EC1107/2006. Flight Directors Ltd have been referred to the Civil Aviation Authority for review.
We focused on assessing alternative airlines rules of carriage of carriers operating flights departing or arriving in the UK and the EU by auditing their official websites.
Vietnam Airlines operates weekly flights from London Gatwick and other European destinations. The airline imposes a limit of eight unaccompanied passengers with the following impairments per flight: wheelchair users (WCHS), wheelchair users (WCHC) are limited to four per flight, blind. The combined total of WCHS, WCHC, and BLND passengers cannot exceed eight per flight.
By comparison, easyjet and Ryanair, which operate smaller aircraft, accept three times as many passengers with the above special needs per flight.
Garuda Indonesia, sponsors of Liverpool Football Club, do not provide mandatory information for disabled passengers on their website. Passengers with special needs are requested to contact the airline Call Center at least 48 hours before scheduled departure to inform staff of their travel requirements. Even when pre-notified, Garuda Indonesia does not guarantee to provide assistance, but simply promises to do their best to accommodate passengers’ needs. The airline operates flights from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Dubai.
Afriqiyah Airways operates flights from London Gatwick to Tripoli, Libya. The airline requires deaf and blind passengers to submit a MEDIF (Medical Information for Fitness to Travel) form or provide a medical certificate. The above request is illegal in the UK and EU.
Vietnam Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways have been referred to the Civil Aviation Authority for review. Garuda Indonesia has not been referred as the carrier does not operate flights from and to the United Kingdom yet.