Disabled passengers bearing brunt of journey disruption, say charities – The Guardian

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Disabled persons are experiencing stress and degradation due to “truly appalling” service failures attributable to the continued journey disruption, charities have mentioned.

Airline cancellations in current weeks and longstanding rail issues have been tough for everybody, however campaigners say that as a result of the transport business treats disabled folks because the lowest precedence, they’re bearing the brunt of the turmoil.

“Far too many disabled people have endured stressful and degrading travel experiences recently because they are constantly seen as an afterthought when it comes to transport, and when things go badly [in the travel industry] the impact is huge,” mentioned James Taylor, the manager director of technique on the incapacity equality charity Scope.

“On planes we have seen too many examples of disabled people forced to wait a long time for assistance, causing discomfort, frustration and huge delays to their trips,” he mentioned. “On trains, disabled people can miss their stop entirely because staff have failed to provide assistance getting off the train. Disabled people are literally being left behind – we are still far from being an accessible society.”

Many disabled folks had had sufficient of travelling as a result of it was “so much harder than it needs to be”, he mentioned. “As summer travel ramps up, transport providers must stop putting disabled passengers last.”

A Scope survey in 2018 discovered that 53% of disabled passengers who required help had been typically held on a aircraft longer than normally wanted as a result of their help had not arrived.

Fazilet Hadi, the pinnacle of coverage at Disability Rights UK, mentioned airports wanted to considerably enhance their help companies to disabled passengers. She mentioned: “In recent weeks, disabled people have experienced some truly appalling service failures and been left on planes for hours without any communication or help.

“The news that a disabled person died after waiting for a prolonged amount of time for help is truly shocking. Disabled people need much higher levels of support than those currently being provided, especially in the light of recent delays, cancellations and disruption.”

Airports have cancelled dozens of flights prior to now fortnight due to employees shortages attributable to the sacking of hundreds of workers in 2020 throughout Covid restrictions. There have been a number of stories of flights being cancelled on the final minute, misplaced baggage, lengthy queues and holidaymakers sleeping on the ground of terminals.

Disabled folks have been stranded on planes, deserted in empty airports and reported important tools equivalent to wheelchairs broken or misplaced.

An investigation has been opened into the loss of life of a disabled passenger who reportedly fell down an escalator after getting off a flight and not using a helper at Gatwick airport. Days earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority mentioned it had seen a rise in stories of “significant service failings” at airports, together with incidents the place passengers needing help had been taken off a aircraft hours after different passengers.

The tragedy occurred every week after the identical airport apologised to Victoria Brignell, who’s paralysed from the neck down, after she was left on a plane for more than an hour and a half when help employees didn’t arrive.

“I booked the help three months in advance, so it wasn’t as if I just turned up. They knew I was coming, and I reminded them two weeks ago, and still I didn’t get the service that I should expect to have,” Brignell mentioned.

Chris Nicholson, a former rugby participant, mentioned he needed to drag himself up stairs at Milton Keynes train station final week after employees refused to assist him owing to well being and security coverage.

This article was amended on 23 June 2022. An earlier model of the textual content linked the considerations raised by charities representing disabled folks with the deliberate rail strikes on 21, 23 and 25 June; these feedback had been associated to current air business disruption and longstanding rail community issues.


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