Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP calls time on airline discrimination

12.00.00am GMT Thu 5th Jan 2006

Wheelchair logo disabled

Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bristol West, is supporting Scope's calls for the law to be changed so that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is extended to air and sea transport.

A snapshot survey by Scope has shown that disabled people are routinely discriminated against as airlines fail to comply with the voluntary code of practice on treatment of disabled passengers.

Amongst the many disturbing findings were: Air Southwest who suggested dogs used by visually-impaired people be strapped beneath their seats during the flight, and CityJet (Air France) who described disabled people as diseased and insisted a doctor would make the decision as to whether disabled people fly.

Stephen Williams MP, who has signed a Commons motion calling for the Government to lift the exemption on air travel, said "The voluntary code of practice currently in place for airlines simply isn't working. There are no incentives for airlines to take action and no punishments if they don't. It is therefore not surprising that people with disabilities are short changed when it comes to international travel."

Angela Drane, a Scope trustee and wheelchair user said "Duty-free trolleys have more rights than disabled people on most airlines - I and many others have been made to feel like fourth-class passengers for too long. How many more disabled people will get left behind, before we have equality?"

In December, Scope flew disabled people from Birmingham to Dublin and back with Aer Lingus to debunk the myth that disabled people are a 'security hazard'. Scope has published a Transport Charter which spells out key legal and attitudinal changes that are needed to ensure disabled people are treated like passengers rather than baggage.

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