It is often said that all that glitters is not gold, meaning that appearances can be deceiving and one must be careful to not be misled by a shiny exterior. This phrase has been used for centuries as a cautionary reminder to take everything at face value, and to remember that what may appear valuable on the surface could ultimately prove to be unworthy.
Singapore Changi Airport is consistently recognized as one of the best airports in the world and is heralded for its unparalleled service, facilities, and amenities. However, there is a certain policy in place that raises some doubt about their stellar reputation, a policy that has been known to put customers at an inconvenience.
Passengers traveling from or to Changi International Airport have the option to request wheelchair assistance from their respective air carriers. This service is usually provided free of charge with the exception of a select few disreputable low-cost airlines.
Passengers with mobility needs can borrow a wheelchair free of charge at the airport if requested. However, these devices are not autonomous and require a family member or travel companion to operate them.
Wheelchair users who travel solo often require additional assistance, particularly while navigating airports. In Singapore, the airport website now allows wheelchair users to book this service online for 20 Singapore Dollars per hour (£12.50/€14/US$15). This fee provides access to an assistant who can help with tasks such as getting through security, finding the gate, and boarding the aircraft.
Singapore signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and the government website states “Singapore is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities have the same rights as everybody else.” Changi airport seems to be taking advantage of their customers by charging expensive prices for services which goes against their commitment to ensure social inclusion.
The aviation industry of the Far East has been dealing with an unfortunate issue - charging wheelchair users for access to assistance. This practice is not only inhumane but also discriminatory, as it denies people with physical disabilities the right to travel conveniently and comfortably on airplanes. Unfortunately, this issue is quite common and needs to be addressed urgently.