Wheelchair Accessibility in the Australian Airlines: Fly Now!
Traveling is a dream come true for some, a way of life to others and a great source of motivation for many; an inspiring activity that everyone enjoys. No matter how frequent we go on a journey and how we label ourselves as to what sort of a traveler we are, we all look forward to a trip that is safe and hassle free. Whether we are tourists going on our regular vacations or we are on a supported holiday in Australia or in any part of the world, we always aim to be guaranteed of a comfortable journey and a relaxed time via any mode of transport that we take.
Many people find flying as the ideal way to travel. According to Tony Tyler, CEO and Director General of IATA (International Air Transport Association), "Last year airlines safely carried 3.6 billion passengers—the equivalent of 48% of the Earth’s population-". This figure shows that more and more people prefer to travel by taking a flight, perhaps due to several reasons: it is a mode of transportation that is safer, quicker, cheaper or more convenient.
Because of the rising number of people who prefer air travel, more airlines promote inclusion by offering additional services for passengers with a disability and for travelers who require assistance, so they could enjoy the facilities and benefits of wheelchair accessible airlines. Passengers are provided with the adequate mobility and disability assistance so they could be informed of their rights and be able to take advantage of the support that each airline is capable of providing for their specific needs and requirements.
The good news is that most airlines in Australia are offering Disability Access Facilitation Plans that benefit people with disabilities and promise them of a well-accommodated and delightful flight experience. These programs specify the terms, rules and regulations, as well as the types of assistance implemented to efficiently manage the trip of the travelers with a disability, and to help them avoid any inconveniences and hassles from lack of preparation, poor assistance and miscommunication.
Below are the four wheelchair accessible Australian airlines which have devised mobility assistance and facilitation plans in order to provide a rewarding travel experience for their passengers:
1. Tiger Air
As per Tiger Air, their Disability Access Facilitation Plan "...is a summary of the Airline’s policies and the assistance that will be given to its customers to assist their travel with us in as dignified and non-discriminatory a manner as possible."
They provide support from the moment the passenger shows interest in booking, during the time that they make their pre-flight planning, and in accommodating their specific needs so they could enjoy enough support as they move through the airport, as well as achieve a nice and relaxing time onboard the aircraft.
Detailed information regarding the assistance are provided for passengers with limited mobility, those with vision or hearing impairment, passengers with a service dog, as well as those with other medical conditions so they are well-informed and well-taken cared of during their trip.
Jetstar provides mobility assistance for its passengers with a disability. For wheelchair users, there are three types of wheelchair assistance which are being offered by Jetstar, so all types of wheelchair users can move effortlessly and with ease. For those who need mobility assistance without a wheelchair, notifying Jetstar in advance will surely help so guests receive the exact mobility support in boarding the aircraft and getting to their respective seats.
The airline also prohibits bringing of electric assistive devices on board their flights. Jetstar does provide upper torso restraints, and does not allow its passengers to bring their own upper torso restraints.
Virgin Australia offers Mobility Aid Equipments at the airports, so passengers can move easily and straightforwardly as they board or disembark from the plane. These are aisle wheelchairs, manual self-propelled wheelchairs and motorised wheelchairs that passengers can use as they enter and leave the boarding gates, as well as slide boards and slide sheets. The said equipments shall be booked through the Virgin Australia Guest Contact Centre in advance.
The airline also provides assistance in transfering passengers who weigh 130 kilograms or less in weight from their personal wheelchair to an airport wheelchair. For domestic flights, guests who weigh more than 130 kilograms are advised to arrange for an Assistance Person. For international flights, they are required to organize for a Carer who will guide them during their transfers.
Although passengers are not allowed to bring an Upper Torso Harness, they can book with Virgin Australia if they do need one. There are also several battery-operated mobility aids or wheelchairs that are permitted by Virgin Australia.
The Disability Access Facilitation Plan for Qantas Airways Limited applies to the operations of Qantas in Australia. The said detailed scheme allows their passengers and guests with a disability to have an agreeable travel experience from their pre-flight planning up to the time they get off the plane. Each disability or medical condition is enumerated, with the corresponding steps on how to book for assistance.
The seating plan and allocation that Qantas provides for their guests with specific needs ensure a comfortable time on board for them. They can even ask for specific seating requirements while they book or when they check-in. Qantas assures everyone that they will attempt to accommodate the seating requests being made.
The accessible toilets, escalators and lifts, Qantas lounges, and other amenities are just some of the facilities that Qantas has for the domestic terminals in Australia, making the travel experience for their guests extra convenient and trouble-free.
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When planning, feel free to ask questions and do not hesitate making clarifications. Be sure to inform your chosen airline of your mobility needs and health requirements a week or two prior to your flight departure, or according to the number of days required by the airline to book or provide the said information. This will allow you to avoid any unforeseen issues and any other hassles from arising.
With the right planning, adequate time and preparation, and with the proper coordination with your airline’s personnel, air travel has never been so much fun and easy!
So be unstoppable! Plan for your dream getaway now or for that perfect supported holiday in Australia, and start traveling comfortably by knowing these kinds of assistance and support on your next flight!