I’m interviewed a lot about accessible travel, and one question that comes up over and over again is, “How does the US stack up access-wise against other countries?” My standard reply is, “Even though we still have some work to do, we have come a long way in the US. Our country is really quite accessible.” And I truly believe that.
Case and point is the latest news from South Africa, concerning access on South African Airways. Apparently a new rule states that if you can’t transfer independently, you have to travel with somebody who can help you. Monde Edeogu, a 20-year old woman with CP discovered this new rule the hard way, as she was recently ordered off a South African Express flight because she was alone and needed assistiance transfering to the airline seat. To add insult to injury the flight attendant then used Edeogu’s cell phone to call her mother to come and get her.
According to South African Airways, it’s not just them. Apparently a country-wide civil aviation policy requires airline passengers to be accompanied if they need assistance with transfers.
So it seems that all countries are not created equal as far as access is concerned. Remember that next time you make an airline reservation.