More News From Down Under

There seems to be a lot happening with accessible air travel in Australia these days, and unfortunately not all of it is good. Or at least that?s the opinion of people like Neil Ashman who wanted to fly from Port Lincoln to Adelaide on Regional Express (REX) airlines. Seems that carrier required Mr. Ashman to be accompanied by an attendant in order to travel. And of course Mr. Ashman was expected to foot the bill for that airline required attendant.

OK, I know a lot of you are thinking, “Well if he needs extra assistance, then it?s up to him to foot the bill for it.” In general I agree with that statement, as I don?t think people should expect airline personnel to help them with toileting, eating and personal care issues.

But that?s not what we are talking about here. Apparently the reason REX required Mr. Ashman to travel with an attendant was so the attendant could assist with his transfers.

Well OK I thought, maybe that?s just the way things work in Australia. After all they aren?t bound by the ACAA. That might be a logical argument, except for one tiny detail. Amazingly enough Mr., Ashman was able to travel unaccompanied on that same route on a competing carrier — QantasLink.

Two different airlines — two different policies. What?s a traveler to do? Well, first you need to check with all the airlines serving your destination to make sure they don?t have any restrictions on PWDs traveling alone. If they do, it?s best to opt for the least restrictive carrier when you have the choice.

But advocates in Australia are trying to take this all one step farther. They now want the government to subsidize the cost of attendants flying with disabled passengers. The airlines don?t feel that?s necessary as they claim they already offer deeply discounted airfares to attendants.

Who will win out?

It?s a toss up in my book, but I?m sure either way it?s sure to set a precedent in the industry.

Stay tuned.