Accessible Air Travel in Russia

Although a new Russian law regarding air travel went into effect last month, it only vaguely touches on the rights of passengers with disabilities. The law seems to strongly focus on what TASS reports as a “systematic failure to abide by transportation rules.” The consequences for future “failures” will range from air carriers being stripped of their rights to carry out certain flights or (for repeated failures), the termination of the air carrier.

Sounds pretty drastic to me. I mean, can you imagine our own FAA or DOT actually shutting an airline down because it had too many delayed flights or too much tarmac sitting time? I venture to guess that we?d all be taking the bus within a matter of months, because there wouldn?t be any airlines left.

But things operate a little different in Russia. The transportation minister also noted that if “normal” conditions have not been provided, passengers will be entitled to compensation. That?s pretty standard in the US (except for weather delays) but previously not the norm in Russia. So at least that?s progress.

But what about disabled passengers? Well, the new law states that air carriers are fee to “assume the responsibility for taking care of disabled passengers”, but only if “flight attendants have the required training”. Transportation Minister Igor Levitin explained that disabled passengers will not be allowed to travel unaccompanied if airline employees feel they can’t provide adequate care or assistance for them.

So there you have it. In the end, the boarding decision lies with the airline, at least as far as disabled passengers are concerned. Something to keep in mind if your travels take you to Russia.