The travel industry ensures the safety of passengers with disabilities during travel and provides assistive devices where necessary. There is no universal design for disability. But there is one for empathy.
Tanjira Khan, Skift
As someone who saved her best dress for a visit to Paris, I’m not sure if it will be Air France. Because there is But I’m here to help that pro bono. Or in exchange for macaroons.
Wheelchair delivery at the aircraft gate
On December 12, 2022, I flew on your airline from Lisbon to Dubai to speak at the Skift Global Forum East, a conference on the future of travel. My talk was about empathy for people with disabilities. What are the odds? However, when I arrived in Dubai, I sat on the plane waiting for my wheelchair for over 40 minutes. It’s a provision that guarantees no hard repercussions. My multiple requests for a wheelchair from the moment I checked in made the head of the crew become intimate with me and made me feel stubborn. He asked me to get off the airport wheelchair while I was “standing” on my ground and said he was violating my human rights.
A simple rule of thumb is that aids and wheelchairs are like the human body. Wheelchairs are not hand luggage. It’s like our feet, who wants to see their feet on a conveyor belt? A cane is not baggage for the blind. Have you ever seen eyeballs being collected from booths?
Wheelchair access at the airport is great, but passengers with disabilities must be given the option of using the airport wheelchair or their own. If they have their own, they should provide it at the aircraft door when disembarking, as most of us cannot function on long transits without it. That makes it a difficult task in an alien wheelchair.
Sadly, the same episode repeated on my return trip from Paris to Lisbon on 16 December 2022, this time I didn’t have the energy to fight and decided to get off in a wheelchair at the airport, but the staff told me that I was a 15 year old in a wheelchair. was expected to carry Kilogram heavy wheelchair battery yourself. I looked at the airline crew with suspicion.All this could have been avoided if my wheelchair had been handed to me at the door.I could have remained an independent person. I’m sorry, but now that I’m sitting in an uncomfortable alien wheelchair, I feel crippled.
The entire crew stood there blaming staff, systems or ground staff, both. At Dubai airport, thanks to the efforts of Dnata representatives, I was finally able to obtain a wheelchair. I am deeply grateful to Syed Kashib Ali Rizvi for doing this for me. The problem is, it doesn’t matter who comes to the door of the aircraft to help. It could be the company, it could be your uncle.
What matters is who you paid to get you to your destination unscathed. Airlines? Air France therefore has a responsibility to ensure that my dignity is not compromised by my lack of disability sensitivity. If your highest standard is to transport passengers alive, you are doing a great job. But if you transport disabled passengers with dignity and safety, you are failing.
This isn’t the first time Air France left me wanting a leg, either. In January 2022, when I was traveling for a few hours in Paris, I was again not provided with a wheelchair. Instead, he was given a broken wheelchair, a 15-kilogram battery in his lap, and left alone in the middle of the transit area. I couldn’t move, go to the bathroom, or eat on my own. I didn’t speak French so I had no way of asking for help. This was the most disappointing experience for me and I don’t want anyone with disabilities to go through this nightmare.
We hope that Air France will be able to sensitize its staff, learn from such experiences about disabilities and ensure practical assistance rather than outdated systems. secure and provide assistive devices as needed. There is no universal design for disability. But there is one for empathy. It comes from wholehearted and inclusive leadership. We don’t need favors for people with disabilities, but we need equal space in all systems of dignity in all experiences according to their definition, not yours. I queued up for macaroons at the airport. But the outdated definition of inclusion bothers me.
Tanzila Khan is a disability rights activist who recently spoke at Skift Global Forum East. This post was first published on her website.
Editor’s note: Air France has reached out to comment on some of Khan’s allegations here.
Update: After Skift published this column, Air France finally issued the following statement: Due to operational problems (chair up stairs of boarding bridge). We have also provided wheelchairs to our customers through airport services, making it easy for passengers to disembark while waiting for their own wheelchairs.
“This experience is not representative of the qualified Air France service that our customers have come to expect and we are using this feedback to consider how we can improve going forward. I’m here.
“Air France is committed to ensuring that passengers with disabilities can travel safely and comfortably. Twenty years ago, we created Saphir, a dedicated agent service to help travelers with disabilities navigate smoothly. “