Thursday, December 28, 2006

Carer requirement costs traveler $430

Tasmanian Emma Butler was refused boarding a Virgin Blue Airlines flight because she did not have a carer with her. The last minute revealation that a carer was needed cost Butler an extra fare to the tune of $430. The airline says there was a miscommunication. Yes, and an expensive one for Butler.
This story finally shed some light for me on the persistent "a carer is needed for safety" claim so often heard. This airline says the carer is needed to help with a lifejacket, if that's needed. But Butler has a good answer for that argument:
"I don't understand what the fuss was about. I've travelled on my own before with no problems. I don't see why they couldn't have put a lifejacket on me before we left the ground, and surely the cabin crew know how to put on a seatbelt?" (Photo via

Tiger improves accessibility for two per flight with fee

Tiger Airways has made further efforts to improve accessibility to its flights. They have implemented a special mobile chair to help wheelchair users to board at some terminals. That's a big improvement from when we first read about Tiger earlier this month.
... I hate to be a malcontent, but Tiger's latest moves aren't good enough, mostly because they require an additional fee -- now $30 -- and limit users of this equipment on any given flight to two people. Tiger says they continue to need these restrictions because they are a discount airline that emphasizes efficiency. I say, how about taking on the challenge of delivering the same service to the disabled -- at the same level of efficiency -- as Tiger purports to deliver to its other customers?
By the way, TODAYonline deserves credit for dogging this issue. Nice work!
(Photo by Richard van Binsberg via

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy holidays, Get Around Guide readers!

If you find yourself traveling this holiday season, may you find the staffs accommodating and all the accessibility features right where they are supposed to be. (Photo via

Tips for traveling by plane with a wheelchair

The Charlotte Observer offers some tips for traveling with a wheelchair. Looks like some good, common sense advice. At least this is how it should work.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Monterey Peninsula B&B has accessible room

The Inn at 213 Seventeen Mile Road, a B&B on the Monterey Peninsula, according to this review, has "refreshingly non-fussy Craftsman style." It also has one wheelchair accessible room.

Passenger with disability refused boarding of accessible bus

If I could believe incidents like this where a mother and her child with a disability were refused boarding to an accessible bus were really about miscommunication or even bad training it would be one thing. Call me a cynic, but I believe that when something like this happens it is more often than not a product of the refuser not wanting to be inconvenienced. Who, besides the folks involved in this incident, should be outraged by this? How about the taxpayers that purchased a bus with accessibility features that aren't being used. (Photo by Kenn Kiser via

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harrington urges Tiger avoidance

Candy Harrington at Barrier Free Travels posted on Tiger Airways, like we did here too several times. I particularly like the way she turned the CEO's language about accommodating the incapacitated around on him in this killer conclusion:
"Best bet is to avoid Tiger Airways at all costs until they come to terms with reality. Perhaps we can incapacitate them in the marketplace." (Tiger photo by Nicolas Bennato via

Tying in the UN convention with toursm, travel

More on the recently passed UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities and how it relates to travel and tourism here courtesy of Scott Rains and Travel Impact Newswire.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Disability Rights Advocates names a travel Eagle and Turkey

Disability Rights Advocates has announced its annual Eagle and Turkey awards. One of each relates to travel. Eagles are recognized for "progressive policies, practices or attitudes and who give people with disabilities the equal treatment they deserve." Turkeys are recognized for none of the above. Microtel was named an Eagle for excellence in providing accessible lodging for travelers with disabilities and in training staff to better accommodate people with disabilities.
Other Eagles this year were: Merrill Lynch, Sesame Workshop, and Interpretype.
There was a Turkey in the list that relates to travel as well. Northwest Airlines was named a turkey for "its draconian attitudes toward travelers with disabilities and for its lack of disability awareness, and lack of disability customer service training."
Have an Eagle or Turkey in mind? You can nominate for the next round of awards here (scroll down).
(Eagle photo by snork; turkey photo by Malinda Welte. Both via

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ask to get to gate to assist certain passengers

Meeting someone at the airport this holiday season? AAA Nevada offers (among others) this relevant tip:
"If you are meeting a child, disabled (person) or elderly passenger, you may be able to go to the gate, but you will have to go to the airline's check-in counter to get permission first." (Photo by Peter Dell via

Carlson hotels intros kits for lodgers with dwarfism

Carlson Hotels Worldwide, parent company of Radisson, Country Inn and Suites and other lodging and dining brands, has announced it will make available at some of its hotels kits designed for people of shorter stature. "The kits ... include a stepstool, a reaching tool, a bar to lower the clothes rack in closets, and a device to retrofit the latch-hook lock on the door," say a Carlson press release. "Our perspective on diversity and inclusiveness goes beyond the traditional realms of ethnicity and we want to find ways to provide a welcoming experience for all guests," said Carmen Baker, who previously led diversity for Carlson Hotels Worldwide and is now vice president of diversity for Carlson Companies, the parent company of Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "There are more than 52 million people with disabilities - the largest minority group in the United States. Maria Seiler, the new vice president of diversity for Carlson Hotels Worldwide, will continue to support this initiative."
This will be great for retrofitting existing hotels. But Scott Rains would want me to point out that perhaps some thought to universal design might eliminate or lessen the need for any such kit in Carlson hotels not yet built. (Photo from Carlson Hotels Worldwide)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Group working toward more accessible Barbados

The Barbados Advocate reports: "President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Boneta Phillips wants both building contractors and the Government to consult with the Council more when planning public buildings and sidewalks"
(Photo of Barbados scene by Dave Evers, Canada ( via

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tiger improves accessibility; it just costs $350 extra

Tiger Airways has made a move to better accommodate passengers with mobility limitations, by implementing use of a special mobility chair. TODAYonline explains: "The equipment enables a passenger to be secured in a special chair, which can then be carried onto the aircraft by the ground staff." And this service can be yours in Singapore for a mere additional fee of $350!
Outrageous. Company representatives acknowledge that the new equipment is in response to publicity this week about two separate incidents of refusing to board passengers who use wheelchairs. But quite obviously they still don't get it.
Let me focus the issue for Tiger; charging disabled people extra to get on your planes is discrimination too!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

UN adopts convention on rights of those with disabilities

The UN has adopted a convention calling for universal rights for people with disabilities. The AP explains: "The convention requires countries to guarantee freedom from exploitation and abuse for the disabled, while protecting rights they already have -- such as ensuring voting rights for the blind and wheelchair-accessible buildings. The convention advocates keeping the disabled in their communities rather than removing them and educating them separately, as many countries do." Don't think this is needed? Listen to Jim Derksen, a member of the human rights committee with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, who pointed out in this article that "only in about 40 countries are the rights of disabled persons articulated in law. In some countries, a disabled person's right to marry, vote and even travel are restricted."
Even travel. Yes the archives here sadly would support Derksen's assertion in that arena.
The convention must be ratified by 20 countries to take effect. (Photo of UN General Assembly in session is a UN photo by Marie Gandois)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Australian beaches improve access

Leighton, North Cottesloe and Swanbourne, Australia will have beach mats and several kinds of beach wheelchairs for use. As a beach vacation is my family's favorite, I'm always cheered when I read of these sorts of improvements being made. I look forward to the day when they will be almost universal at public beach accesses. (Photo of Surfers Paradise, Australia beach by Melodi2 via

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another allegation of discrimination by Tiger Airways

Another family with a member that uses a wheelchair is relating a story about being refused boarding by Tiger Airways. The son of the woman who was refused boarding told Channel News Asia: ""The counter staff asked whether my mother could climb the stairs to the plane and walk. We said she could walk but would have difficulty in climbing up the stairs. The counter girl then said that if the pilot saw us, he would reject us. We were not given permission to board the plane."
What is wrong with the captains on these flights?(Photo by Eduardo via

Buzzin': Tiger Airways

There's some blogosphere buzz being generated by Tiger Airways refusal to allow an Australian woman, traveling with her family, to board a plane because she is disabled:
- "Being a budget airlines doesn't excuse the airline from giving bad services."
-- Some interesting comments to this post of an article about the incident at Little Speck -- one from Australia, where the family is from, and one from Singapore. Neither defend Tiger.
-- At Tomorrow Bulletin of Singapore Bloggers you can read several comments following a post on the incident and learn about the airways lengthy response policy and read a particularly harsh suggestion for disciplining the pilot that refused the disabled passenger. Key quote from commenter anonymous coward: "Guess the elderly can all stay home and forget about travelling when they retire..."
-- From the Australian side of the issue, Welsh Dog at Opinion Australia includes a link to Tiger's contact Web page for those wishing to express theri displeasure directly.

Tiger issues (lame) apology for barring disabled woman

Tiger Airways has issued an apology of sorts for the recent barring of a disabled woman traveling with her family from one of their flights. Channel News Asia reports Tiger CEO Tony Davis as saying: "It is regretful that their holiday plans have been disrupted in this way and I have apologised to the family for the inconvenience they experienced." The family is in danger of losing $15,000 in travel expenses if the trip to Greece can't go on. Snow also says in the article that Tiger is in discussion with the family about the situation. Discussion about what? Even basic customer service says you just make it right for the customer. Seems all the discuss needed is which flight they want to get on.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tiger Airways refuses disabled passenger, ruins family trip

Another incredible example of the depth of discrimination against people with disabilities by an airline surfaced over this family's experience with Tiger Airways. Their daughter was not allowed to board a flight because of her disability. The family says they had checked with the airline first and were told -- as long as they didn't expect any help (lovely sentiment) -- they would be OK. But apparently the captain of the flight intervened. What was his problem? Bear in mind the family was willing to do the lifting etc. Di the captain think she'd release disabled virus into the air? Did he think having a disabled person along would be too unpleasant for his other passengers (or himself)? I suppose knowing the real reason would be too depressing. Even a Tiger Airlines spokesperson admits to this lame policy: "... if the passengers themselves can actively assist the disabled person on to the plane and everything is sorted out, it is up to the travellers, that's our policy.'' Apparently the captain hadn't read the rule book. By missing the flight, the family lost about $15,000 in airfares, transfers and accommodations for their planned month-long trip to Singapore. I hope there's some legal channel open to them to get the money back. The trip is lost, it appears for now. But I hope they find another way to get to Singapore someday. (Photo by Eduardo via

Your blogger as guest columnist at Turismo@Polibea

Yours truly is the guest columnist this month at Turismo@Polibea, the Spanish accessible tourism e-publication. (If you prefer the Spanish version it's here). I was very honored to be asked to write for this top flight magazine. You should bookmark it or subscribe if you're interested in travel in Spain.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jersey township sued over beach facilities access

Karl Loose, of Pennsauken Township, is suing Upper Township, New Jersey over access for people with disabilities to its Strathmere beach facilities. Loose has sued over communities, companies and agencies over access before, using the same lawyer, Anthony J. Brady Jr. of Camden. “I don't get any satisfaction out of it. It makes me angry that I have to do this at all,” Loose said of his motivation. This case seems particularly irksome to me because it involves new facilities, in which access appears to not have been given a thought. “A lot of other towns have created accessibility," said Brady. "They just built a two-story lifeguard station. The bathrooms are not accessible. That's incompetence.” (Not necessarily New Jersey sand photo by Martin Cannings via

Thursday, December 07, 2006

No tops vote in obsese air traveler GA Guide poll

Get Around Guide recently closed its first poll, which has been hanging around in the sidebar for about a month.
The question?: Should obese airline passengers be accommodated as disabled on commercial flights?
The results:
-- No, 58.3 percent
-- Yes, 33.3 percent
-- Yes, with a medical reason, 8.3 percent
Even if you combine the two yes responses, no still decisively attracted the largest response.
Frankly I'm a little surprised at the response. I would have at least expected a closer result. But I guess that's why you count the votes.
I voted yes.
(Photo by FerUrbina via

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Chicago, Chicago that accessible town

I have a big soft spot for Chicago. I grew up in the near west suburbs. I have lived outside its sphere of influence at times, but it still exudes a pull on me and my family. Luckily we now live within close striking distance, even though we reside across the Wisconsin state line. So I was particularly excited to find Accessible Chicago. The site was founded in 2005 by Catherine Marsden, a self described "special needs mom" living in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. The site includes first hand reviews of accessibility at various Chicago area restaurants, hotels and attractions. There's also a blog, Kudos and Tomatoes, where readers can share their experiences, good and bad.
I'd say Marsden earns a kudos for creating Accessible Chicago.
(Photo of Chicago skyline by Mitchum Owen and photo of Navy Pier by Kenn Kiser, both via

Monday, December 04, 2006

Realities of India discount air travel discussed

Air travel on Indian airlines, especially a discount airline, sounds less than convenient or pleasant for wheelchair travelers, as portrayed in this article. (Photo by Richard van Binsbergen via

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rolling Rains challenges mind set at Smithsonian Journeys

Check out this passionate post on Rolling Rains about Smithsonian Journeys short-sighted, unimaginative and ultimately disappointing stance on accommodating people with disabilities. A prime quote from Scott: "There is no reason why Smithsonian Journeys should not have a product line that is inclusive of slow walkers and people with disabilities. Not all itineraries may be accessible but the destinations themselves may be. Sometimes (not always) what is lacking is imagination. The itinerary can be changed to accommodate an alternate way to enjoy the same destination."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cruise experience from Enabled Traveler

Robert at Enabled Traveler is optimistic about being able to have a positive experience on a cruise, even if you're a wheelchair user. This despite some iffy experiences of his own. His advice in the end is good for a cruise, and travel in general, when you have a disability: "My advice is to compare each cruise line to see which best meets your needs. If you use a wheelchair take measurements of its width and compare that to the widths of doorways, if they are known. Ask about ramps and steps. I’m sure you’ll find a ship that suits your needs." (Photo by kettu via