The battle for equal access to the friendly skies is heating up over in Malaysia. In fact, low cost air carrier AirAsia may soon back down on their restrictive policy of prohibiting some disabled passengers from flying with them.
Under their current policy, they refuse passage to anyone who is “totally immobile” (their terminology, not mine). They don’t have a lift, and although they claim to have carried some passengers up the boarding steps, they say they just can’t accommodate everyone. In other words, those “totally immobile” folks are out of luck.
Well, that’s not good enough for members of Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport (BEAT), who held a protest against AirAsia at KLIA last week. These wheelchair-users, who held up signs proclaiming “Everyone can fly except us”, subsequently captured the attention of Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Choy ordered AirAsia and KLIA to resolve this matter. He’s not a happy camper. He doesn’t like to see protesters at his airports.
AirAsia said they might be able to buy a lift if KLIA would reduce their airport fees. But they also said that even with a lift, they still could not allow “totally immobile” folks to fly with them. Their reasoning behind that statement is that since their planes are not equipped with accessible restrooms and wide aisles, they are not suitable for “totally immobile” passengers.
Well, someone needs to inform AirAsia that they don’t need wide aisles if they get an aisle chair; and that not everybody has to use the restroom, especially on shorter flights.
Yes AirAsia, even “total immobiles” can fly.