Fit to fly? Hell yeah!
Accessibilty and air travel - is this the last bastion of travel that has declined to adapt?
These days flying is not the most pleasant of pursuits for anyone, but if you are in a wheelchair then the task is equivalent to a Paralympic discipline - and not a very nice one.
Whether you fly like royalty in first class, or you choose economy where us human beings accept being packed tighter than a columbian suitcase, add to this the perspiration of the person in the next seat - is worth that £10 ticket (plus baggage of course, so it’s not £10). Whatever way you choose to fly when in a wheelchair, once you reach the cabin door it then becomes undignified and unsafe - whether you are eight years old or eighty years old. We all know about smashed/broken wheelchairs or even ending up in a completely different destination.
In the words of Bob Dylan ‘The times They are a Changing’. Nearly two and a half years ago after a bad flight with my daughter who uses a wheelchair, I decided to have a look at why land and sea have adapted but air travel remains in a bygone era. Some two and a half years later I have government support in both the Lords and the Commons, aviation and their supply chain are listening and engaging, their support and help is increasing daily. I had the first meeting of the Wheelchair Working Group last week, this brought the manufacturers from this industry together to start to create a cabin safe power/manual wheelchair. To get this done these are the three ingredients, Aviation, Governments and Manufacturers.
Around me are a handful of people helping me along. Around these is support of such an enormous magnitude to what feels like the whole world - all of this I find very humbling. My campaign is all about finding a solution, until that is found and engaged then all we will ever hear about is the bad experiences. So let’s find the solution.
People often say to me how can I help, well its easy. Write to your MP. Now I know what you’re thinking “my MP is a wet weekend” or “my MP won’t care”. Well I say, drop your political allegiances for one email or letter, they are there to do job and that is serve their constituents, I have government on our side, they are in power and they can help so let’s use them. If you have a story to tell then tell them, or just simply put “how is it Airlines have not adapted like land and sea..?” Write in droves. it’s really working, I have the government in my sight - so please, please write. If you feel you have something more unique then please feel free to contact me, I need all the help I can get.
Finally, this will not happen today or tomorrow, I would like to think it’ll happen in 5 to 10 years. I take the view that disability and inclusion has changed dramatically in the last two decades thanks to previous campaigners and generations, this is the last bastion of travel that has declined to adapt, For the next generation let’s make this happen and you never know, something may happen sooner.
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