Customer care for the disabled

It sounds like a scene from Come Fly With Me: a badly disabled young boy, excited about what is likely to be the last foreign holiday of his life, is prevented from going because the budget airline from which his parents have bought tickets decides his wheelchair is too heavy to put on the plane. It isn\’t, though, a cringe-inducing comedy sketch, but instead the cringe-inducing news of easyJet\’s conduct towards Declan Spencer, a 12-year-old with muscular dystrophy.

Some will be outraged, some will not give a shit.

I\’m not going to call for a boycott of easyJet: potential passengers can decide for themselves whether they want to give their money to a company that treats handicapped children the way it treated Declan Spencer.

Quite, the glory of a competitive marketplace. Declan and family are flying on another airline.

You, us, the general public, can decide whether that threatment is worthy of seeking an alternative to Easyjet or not. Our morals, our money, our choice as to whether to deploy our money in pursuit of our moral aims.If enough of us care then Easyjet will change its ways. If not enough of us do then it won\’t.

The problem with this system is what?

The alternative system of course being a change in the law: but if enough of us care then we don\’t need to change the law and if not enough of us care then why change the law?

14 comments on “Customer care for the disabled

  1. The alternative system of course being a change in the law: but if enough of us care then we don’t need to change the law and if not enough of us care then why change the law?

    Enhhh… kind of inclined to agree with the sentiment of your post but suppose people didn’t care either way about racial prejudice, or indefinitely locking people up, for example? Some things are just ‘right’ and our beloved leaders ought to act according to that.

  2. If there was something reasonably conspicuous in the T&Cs declaring a upper limit on the weight of wheelchairs, then Easyjet does have a leg to stand on (yes, yes, a joke can be made about almost anything). But if there wasn’t, they behaved like the shits they clearly don’t give.

  3. Fro EasyJet’s T&C’s

    “Folding wheelchairs will be carried on board free of charge in addition to your normal baggage allowance. If you require more than one wheelchair to be carried, such as a sports wheelchair, then the sports wheelchair will be carried also subject to payment of the sports equipment fee.

    We can routinely accept two wheelchair passengers on every flight. We can only accept groups of three or more wheelchair passengers by prior arrangement.

    At the airport

    If you require any additional assistance at the airport, such as a wheelchair to transport you from check in to the aircraft if you have reduced mobility, please let us know by pre-booking on ‘My easyJet’ what you need giving us at least 48 hours before the scheduled departure time of your flight. This lets us make sure we will have the appropriate equipment and resources in place for you when you arrive at the airport.

    Passengers requiring special assistance are advised to check in at least 90 minutes before your flight is scheduled to depart. For more information for passengers who require special assistance or who have specific requirements relating to their health or mobility, please click here.

    We will try and get you through the gate and on the plane as soon as possible once we have taken through all those passengers with Speedy Boarding or Speedy Boarding Plus.

    12 Passengers with specific requirements – disability, medical and health

    Passengers with specific requirements are those whose mobility is reduced due to physical incapacity (sensory or locomotory), intellectual deficiency, age, illness or any other cause of disability. easyJet is unable to accept those passengers with a level of disability which requires the presence of a care assistant unless a care assistant is travelling with the passenger. A maximum of two disabled passengers can travel with one Care Assistant.

    Passengers with specific requirements who book their seats over the telephone must advise easyJet of their requirements at the time of booking. Passengers purchasing seats over the Internet should select the type of assistance they require via the flight confirmation email (Specific needs and access requirements). Alternatively, customers may contact us by telephone to make this request (for other telephone numbers visit the contact us section.) The airline requires a minimum of 48 hours notice to arrange assistance. It may not be possible to honour requests received less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure of a flight, as the airline may not be able to accommodate your needs. This could result in passengers being unable to travel. However, where possible, easyJet will endeavour to provide passengers with assistance when boarding and disembarking flights.

    Please see paragraph 8 above in relation to Check-in requirements.

    Passengers with specific requirements will not be allowed to sit in emergency exit rows of the aircraft in case of an emergency evacuation of the aircraft.

    Passengers travelling with vital medication and/or medical equipment are permitted to carry up to 10kgs of medication and/or equipment free of charge in addition to their standard hold baggage allowance provided that it is carried in one bag. Where medical equipment is packed in more than one bag, the customer will be charged an additional bag charge fee.

    Wheelchairs
    Wheelchairs and mobility aids weighing more than 60kgs (excluding battery) can be accepted for travel provided they can be collapsed into separate parts weighing less than 60kg each. This is to protect the health and safety of our workforce.

    If the mobility aid weighs more than 60kg (excluding battery) the passenger will need to inform us, at least 2 days in advance via our contact centre, of the total weight of their mobility aid and also bring the operating instructions with them to the airport.

    If the mobility aid cannot be collapsed into separate parts weighing less than 60kg (excluding battery) then it will not be accepted for travel.

    Passengers’ folding wheelchairs will be carried free of charge in addition to their normal baggage allowance. Where a passenger requires that more than one wheelchair be carried, and the second wheelchair is a sporting wheelchair, the sporting wheelchair will be carried upon payment of the sports equipment fee.

    The airline will only accept groups of three or more wheelchair passengers by prior arrangement made via our call centre (for other telephone numbers visit the contact us section.)

    Wheelchairs that are powered by sealed, non-spillable types of battery are acceptable for carriage on easyJet aircraft. The airline will not carry wheelchairs with un-sealed, spillable batteries.

    Wheelchair facilities can be provided at the airport for passengers who are completely immobile and cannot walk unaided, or are unable to climb the aircraft steps, or cannot walk long distances. You must inform easyJet at the time of booking to arrange this service.”

    Took about a minute to find that lot, easily found under ‘Information’ on the website.

    Had my first ever experience of Easy Jet a couple of weeks back. For someone who detests airlines & airports enough to regularly drive from Southern Spain to the Belgian border…..I got what I paid for & that was not a lot. Would have been half that if I’d been planning a holiday & not jumping on a plane at the last minute.

    I’m a single fit male travelling without much luggage & I still made a point of skimming through the T&C’s. Amazed me how many of my co-passengers tried to check in with two pieces of cabin baggage despite the ‘one item’ rule being repeated all through the booking procedure.
    I’d say, if you’ve a disabled child you’ve a duty of care to look at the T&C’s. If the plane can’t cope with items over 60Kg then the plane can’t cope with items over 60KG. I’d imagine that’s because it’s the limit of what can be safely man-handled. ie the Safety Elves have had their input. That’s going to affect all carriers so I doubt the family could have done a ‘show up & board’ with any airline.

  4. It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that easyJet are interested solely in herding passengers onto planes and herding them off again as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, with only the legal minimum of regard for their comfort and dignity.

    And that’s nothing to do with them be able or disabled, white or coloured, heterosexual or queer. That’s simply the business model.

  5. It seems that the failure was with the boys parents, who did not look at the t & c’s. Easyjet appear to be reasonable in their t & c’s, though, as I know through my own experience, trying to solve a problem with easyjet is near impossible. (They left my luggage behind.)

    Leaving that aside, Tim, your point doesn’t necessarily apply. This is simply because most people don’t consider every angle when booking a flight, or indeed buying most goods and services. It is therefore appropriate to legislate on occasion, to cover those “little people” who are not important or numerous enough to appear on fellow buyers’ radar.

  6. UKLiberty: “Some things are just ‘right’ and our beloved leaders ought to act according to that.”

    Who decides what’s ‘right’?

  7. nick: “Leaving that aside, Tim, your point doesn’t necessarily apply. This is simply because most people don’t consider every angle when booking a flight, or indeed buying most goods and services. It is therefore appropriate to legislate on occasion, to cover those “little people” who are not important or numerous enough to appear on fellow buyers’ radar.”

    We have to legislate for the lazy and the dim?

  8. This is simply because most people don’t consider every angle when booking a flight, or indeed buying most goods and services.

    Which rather implies that the angles that they don’t consider are the unimportant ones.

    It is therefore appropriate to legislate on occasion, to cover those “little people” who are not important or numerous enough to appear on fellow buyers’ radar.

    But if they’re not important nor numerous enough to influence a market, why do you think they’ll be better placed to influence a government?

  9. While this isn’t such a case, surely the disabled or severely disabled are in small enough minority that their buying power will not be able to influence some companies in some markets?

  10. JuliaM,

    UKLiberty: “Some things are just ‘right’ and our beloved leaders ought to act according to that.”

    Who decides what’s ‘right’?

    Well, that’s where the difficulty arises, doesn’t it?

  11. FWIW, I have found Easyjet very helpful. My wife is prone to having fits on flights. Easyjet is the only airline we have flown on that will allow her to lie down on the floor for 20 minutes to prevent the onset of a fit. Every other airline we have used from BA to Ryanscare tries to prevent her, on health and safety grounds, from doing what her doctor has told her to do – until I say we are happy to take the risk posed by turbulence etc and I ask whether they would prefer to make an emergency landing…Easyjet staff even let me return to my seat and sat with her. Now that’s what I call service…

  12. While this isn’t such a case, surely the disabled or severely disabled are in small enough minority that their buying power will not be able to influence some companies in some markets?

    In terms of £sd, yes. Then, you have to calculate the negative PR from the non-disabled, and the effect on staff morale of doing such things.

    On top of that, lots of business owners aren’t just rapacious robots. They’ll do things that they feel are just the right things to do.

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