Government announces new charter

For persons of reduced mobility (PRMs), air travel is often fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. In recent years the increased ability for people to share their stories has led to a sharp increase in both government and media interest, with reports of issues, such as Frank Gardner the BBC security correspondent being left on an airplane for two hours after staff had lost his wheelchair. In light of this, the government has called for a new airline charter to be adopted.

This new charter will aim to remove the current £2,000 limit on compensation for damaged goods and enforce better training for airline crews and baggage handlers. The government hopes these changes will reduce the risk of damage caused to wheelchairs during transit and help airline staff increase their understanding of the requirements needed to better cater for PRMs.

Currently, aviation is mitigated by the 1999 Montreal Convention, a blanket liability contract that includes the maximum amount a passenger can claim following damage to goods. However, with more than 57% of PRMs in agreement that flying and travelling through airports is challenging, the accessibility minister, Nusrat Ghani, said that changes need to be made. [1]

The desire for airline reform comes as improvements have been made across other public transport networks. In early March 2018 a Supreme Court ruling showed a commitment to improving the processes of boarding and traveling on buses, stressing that ‘passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them.’[2]

Accessibility improvements are not solely restricted to public transport either, as Google Maps announced that wheelchair users worldwide will be able to check accessibility information when planning journeys across various cities. [3]

As new improvements are made for people with disabilities outside of the aviation industry it is important to address the changes that need to take place to allow for reform on airlines.

Charters such as this offers the aviation industry a step in the right direction, which is welcomed by all. As well as improving facilities and training, there have been calls from many campaign groups to both government and airlines to find a solution for allowing personal wheelchairs on-board, which is more complex than some might assume.

While a solution is being debated and discussed throughout the industry, it is vital PRMs receive the same level of treatment as all passengers.  This means the industry still has a long way to go to improve the service and dramatically reduce the number of complaints made by disabled passengers.


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