Although we take certain access related rights for granted in the US, that’s not always the case in other areas of the world. Take air travel for example. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, US airlines can’t require a medical certificate from a passenger just because he or she happens to use a wheelchair.
But that’s not the way it works across the Pond — at Aer Lingus. In fact William Cowan was shocked when the airline wanted medical certification that he was fit to fly, just because he’s a quadriplegic. It’s even more shocking because Cowan is active and fit — he sails, swims and generally enjoys life.
So Cowan decided to fight this ridiculous requirement. And maybe it’s because he’s an attorney, or maybe it’s just because he was persistent, but eventually Aer Lingus exempted him from the medical certification requirement.
But here’s the deal – it’s still part of their official policy, so the same thing could happen to you if you are a quadriplegic. According to the Aer Lingus website, medical clearance is required for the following conditions:
- Oxygen requests
- Tetraplegia / Quadriplegia
- Infectious diseases
- Transplant patients
- Broken lower limbs
- Psychiatric disorders
- Recent illness
- Premature Infants
And that clearance requires that your doctor fill out a form that certifies you are able to complete an airline flight safely without requiring extraordinary medical assistance, and that you do not have an infectious disease.
To add insult to injury, all of this must be done at least 10 days before the flight, which pretty much rules out last minute travel.
So what’s a traveler to do? Well you could fight it like Michael did, but frankly who has the time and energy to do that every time they fly? In this case, the best thing to do is take your business -– and your money — elsewhere. Then tell your friends and family to do the same thing. And while you’re at it, send Aer Lingus an e-mail and tell them that you won’t fly with them till their restrictive policy for quadriplegics is changed.
Change doesn’t happen by just sitting back and accepting the status quo. Sometimes you have to get a little vocal. Tell Aer Lingus how you feel!