All Airline Access is NOT Equal


cockpit_plane_airplane_213770I get a lot of feedback on airlines – some of it good, and some of it not so good. For the most part my advice to folks is to learn the law – in this case the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) – and then complain to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) if things don’t go according to the regs. And that works fine if you are flying on a US carrier, or to or from the US on a foreign carrier. That’s as far as the jurisdiction of the ACAA extends. Period.

So it’s extremely important to check out the access rules and regulations of foreign carriers that operate within their own country or to and from other foreign countries. Case and point is Scoot Airlines, a Singapore-based carrier that operates flights from Singapore to Australia and China. Everything about this budget carrier is young and hip and cool. And then there’s their access policy.

Much like low-cost British carrier easyJet, Scoot Airlines requires that wheelchair-users travel with an attendant if they can’t get up and walk to their seat unassisted. In other words, even if you made it through check-in and security unassisted, you still have to have an attendant with you if you can’t walk. That’s something that Dr. Merima Isakovic and David Wadge recently discovered when they tried to board their Scoot Airlines flight without an attendant. They were both denied passage.

But wait, there’s more.

The airline also charges for wheelchair assistance.

If you can walk up the airplane steps but can’t manage the distance, it will cost you about $26 for someone to push you there in a wheelchair. And if you cant walk at all, you’ll have to ante up about $146 to use the lift and get assistance to and from your seat. These charges are for non-stop flights. Prices for one-stop flights are doubled.

And although most folks in the US may think this is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age, I might remind you that this Singapore-based airline is not covered by our access laws.

So what’s a traveler to do? First and foremost, if you plan to travel on a foreign carrier to places outside of the US, check the airline website to see what their requirements are for disabled travelers. Scoot Airlines clearly outlines these procedures and charges on their website. But like I said they’re not the only carrier that has some of these policies.

And when you find a carrier with these draconian policies, just cross it off your list. Don’t give them your business. It’s really that simple.

Remember, you can’t control the policies of foreign airlines, but you can control which airlines you patronize.

Fly smart!