Nothing seems to stop Jet2.com from discriminating against the most vulnerable; not the UK CAA review, not the Scottish Parliament debate on their discriminatory practices.
“The CAA is reviewing Jet2’s conditions of carriage to ensure they are compliant with the regulations, and will contact the airline to ensure they are clear on their obligations,” a CAA spokesperson told Reduced Mobility Rights last October, following a complaint filed by MS sufferer John Findlay.
The man, who had been told by an ABTA travel agent he would have been assisted moving from his seat to the lavatory on a five and half four flight found the information to be untrue. Not only the airline did not provide an onboard wheelchair; cabin crew refused to help him as well. Following the complaint, the Association of British Travel Agents took the travel agent’s defence, calling the incident a “misunderstanding.”
"I feel angry when I think that in the year 2013 I am still faced with the lack of understanding airlines have when dealing with a disabled person," John Findlay said.
At the end of January, Shona Robison MSP, Scotland's Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, approached the airline industry following the parliamentary debate of 23 January on Mr Findlay incident to discuss discrimination against disabled people.
On 19 February, Jet2.com wrote a letter to Neil Findlay MSP disputing the validity of the law protecting the rights of disabled people traveling by air. "As you have advised, Regulation 1107/2006 does require an airline departing from an airport within a member state to provide "assistance in moving to toilet facilities if required." That requirement has not been elaborated upon in law, but has been discussed in non-binding publications such as the Department for Transport Code of Practice,” the airline told the Member of Scottish Parliament.
The airline went on saying they ask passengers who require assistance in moving to the toilet travel with a personal assistant who can provide this. European law states that "a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility should not be denied boarding just because they cannot be assisted in moving to the toilet facilities due to the unavailability of an on-board wheelchair."
Jet2.com statement was made after the UK CAA renewed their point of view with regard to airlines’ obligations. "The CAA's view is that Regulation EC 1107 requires airlines to provide some form of assistance to help PRMs to and from the toilet - to do nothing would put an airline in non-compliance with 1107 and risk potential follow up action from the CAA,” James Fremantle, UK CAA’s PRM Unit manager. "In the absence of onboard wheelchairs on Jet2.com aircraft, we must ensure that passengers who require assistance in moving to the toilet travel with a personal assistant who can provide this."
In Reduced Mobility Rights’ opinion, Jet2.com disregard for the law protecting the rights of passengers with disabilities is unacceptable and clearly demonstrates the airlines' disregard of the moral duty society as a whole has towards the physically vulnerable.
Reduced Mobility Rights requested the European Transport Commissioner, the UK Secretary for Transport, the Scottish Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, and the CEO of the UK CAA take immediate action on the issue to ensure Jet2.com immediately cease and desist from imposing discriminatory practices against the physically vulnerable and urgently provide services and assistance as specified by the law. Hopefully the unruly airline won’t be allowed to show its middle finger much longer.
Update 27/02/14, 12.15 PM GMT
Jet2.com CEO concedes, the airline commits to purchasing aisle chairs. Reduced Mobility Rights understands the CEO of beleaguered Jet2.com has written to the CEO of the UK Civil Aviation Authority and to the Scottish Government informing the airline is now in the process of purchasing a number of aisle chairs that will be made available on request. Aisle chairs should become available from April 2014. More follows...