Author Topic: Airport rules and regs ?  (Read 2199 times)

Colchy

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Airport rules and regs ?
« on: November 23, 2012, 09:18:45 PM »
I have very limited mobility and use one of those small mobility scooters which disassembles into 4 separate pieces. The last time that I travelled by airplane in 2010 I was allowed to drive it up to the boarding point where a couple of airport staff would kindly take it for loading into the luggage hold. Sometimes it was also waiting me when I got off the plane. All in all it made the whole airport experience more bearable than having to wait around for an hour or so for wheelchair assistance and having the freedom to look around the duty free shop etc at leisure.

However, as as matter of course  I notified my airline but this time was told that my scooter would have to be checked in with my luggage as Health and Safety wouldn't allow anything over 31 Kg to be lifted (my scooter weighs 35Kg). I pointed out that just taking the battery separately would reduce the overall weight by 12.9 kg. All to no avail as I reached an impasse in dialogue when the person at the other end began to waffle on about lifts or whatever, which in my experience made no sense as there never was one in the boarding area. Fact is that it all just became made up excuses on the spot.

Can anyone help me regarding the airport laws concerning this kind of issue,or know where I can find out more, because it feels like discrimination at least to me it does. Thanks
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 09:22:20 PM by Colchy »

ally

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 09:20:12 PM »
You may find the link below helpful, especially the case studies.  I haven't gone abroad with my mobility scooter, but, I do take my wheelchair with me.  It all depends on who you fly with.  Sometimes, I have been allowed to use my chair up to the point of getting on the plane, then, it was folded, and, put into the luggage hold.  However, most times the chair was checked in with the luggage after being bubble wrapped.  (in some airports they charge you for this) and I had to use an Airport wheelchair.  I know how bad it is, especially if you are given an unsuitable Airport wheelchair.  I was fitted for my chair, so obviously its more comfortable for me.  I think the lift that was mentioned will be the ambulift which allows level crossing to the aircraft door if you can't manage the stairs leading up to the aircraft.

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/service-users-guidance/air-travel/your-rights-to-fly-step-by-step-guide/

Sunshine Meadows

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2012, 10:51:49 AM »
Different Airlines have different policies so it is hard to offer definitive advice.

When I went to America in 2003 I ended up having to staying in the 'disabled person's lounge' while my sister was allowed to go look at the shops. On the upside we did get to board the plane before other people.

Maybe the weight limit is to do with how much can be loaded along with the passengers, after all the 'main' luggage is loaded.

WheeledTraveler

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 04:59:15 PM »
I can't remember what the official European legislation is that's relevant (will try to find it if I can get my brain to work), but I think they're on shaky legality. Generally that sort of "health and safety" rule comes out of their convenience, not any real health and safety issue, especially since you've not had it come up in the past. Many airport terminals do have a few lifts near some of the gates that are "behind scenes". They like to bring scooters, powerchairs, and even manual chairs down to the plane using those most of the time. For a while this meant that if you flew out of Heathrow Terminal 4 on British Air, they preferred to dump all passengers requiring some sort of assistance in their "special assistance lounge". I'm not sure what it's like in Terminal 5 (I know flying an American-based airline using Terminal 4 these days that they don't have a special assistance lounge). As you've pointed out, you could just break down your scooter into smaller parts and it would be well within their limits and I've never heard anything about there being a limit on what you could add to a plane while passengers were loading. I've seen things much heavier than 35kg put into cargo areas on planes after I've been loaded. One thing I do know for sure is that there is European legislation that protects wheelchair/mobility aid users from having to switch to an airport wheelchair before you get to the gate. The other thing would be that if you want a wheelchair bubblewrapped, you'd have to check it with your stuff, but I've never heard of an airline requiring that anywhere before ally mentioned it (I believe it's happened to ally, but I'm surprised that in 8 years or so of traveling internationally using wheelchairs and researching the laws I hadn't heard about it before).

I've flown a fair bit in both the US and Europe with a manual wheelchair so don't have the experience with a powered device, but I still think they're talking BS. After the first time BA dumped me in their lounge (where I wasn't even able to go to the loo, despite having come direct from a 7 hour overseas flight so being a bit desperate), I started telling them when I checked in that I was happy to meet them at the assistance lounge a set time before my flight, but I would make my way there on my own and they would have to deal with that. They didn't like it, but they managed. The last time I flew out of Terminal 4 on BA, the lift they were using as a centralised lift to bring all wheelchairs down broke not long before my flight. As a result they went back and forth on how to get me to my flight. My gate was at the other end of the terminal (over 20 minutes walk away from the assistance lounge). Ultimately they magically realised that 1) there was a lift near my gate anyway and 2) I was in a manual chair that could be carried down a flight of stairs in a worst case scenario. One of the porters ran me through the airport and I nearly missed my flight (they had to stop boarding in the middle to get me on because they dithered so long that pre-boarding had ended before they even started bringing me to my gate). I can tell you that after that experience, had I ever been in the same situation where they wanted me to meet them somewhere other than the gate, they'd have been completely ignored and I just would have shown up to the gate early to preboard. As far as I've read in any legislation there would be nothing they could legally do about it.

I will say that I never had that experience with any airline other than BA (in any country I've flown out of) and that the only airport I ever had it at was Heathrow (I've also flown BA flights out of other airports in the UK, as well as other countries). The only worse experience I've had flying was at Charles de Gaulle where they wanted me to transfer to an aisle chair (the narrow chair that fits down the centre aisle of the plane) 2 1/2 hours before my flight. Because I argued and insisted using my own pointing out that if they forced the issue I'd end up in hospital due to pain (and they'd be hearing from lawyers), I managed to earn myself the most thorough security check I've ever had (including not only the patdown I'm used to, but a visual check under my clothing). Even the new sections of Charles de Gaulle were horribly inaccessible, anyway. If I ever go to Paris again I'll fly somewhere else and then take the train (I've had wonderful Eurostar experiences and would happily try flying into AMS and taking the train since I've had good luck at Schipol).

Now I have the itch to travel even though my body is no where near being in shape for it. I hope you do enjoy your trip wherever you're going :)

ally

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2012, 10:57:30 PM »
Dubai insists on wheelchairs being bubble wrapped, and, you have to pay for the pleasure.  They also have a disabled waiting area in the basement of the Airport.  Once in there you have to remain until your flight is called.  There are two disabled toilets which are very difficult to access due to the amount of disabled in the basement.  The wheelchair area also doubles up as prayer room.  You can insist on remaining in the disabled area upstairs, however, if you need the toilet they won't allow you to go downstairs in the lift by yourself.  I was wheeled to the toilet by a man who then waited outside of the toilet.  He then wheeeled me back into the lift to go upstairs.  I was rather alarmed at the time because I had a horrible thought that he would actually come into the toilet with me.

Worse was my experience flying out on holiday.  My own wheelchair tested posive twice for explosives!!  I was wheeled away and surrounded by security.  After repeating the tests they decided to take my particulars.  Name, address, flight etc.  When we queried this, we were told it was in case something went amiss mid flight.  In other words, had the wheelchair exploded they could pin the blame on me!!  So much for security. :-)

Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 04:10:14 PM »
Hi everyone and thanks for your helpful advice, etc.

The situation as it stands is that I contacted the airline concerned (EVA Air) at Heathrow and spoke to a someone there who wasn't at all helpful but sounded fed up with complaints on this issue - basically when I said about dismantling the scooter he just seemed to think that the luggage handlers haven't the time (all of 5 minutes) to spend on such a procedure. Well ok I asked, isn't this in breach of European Law? He was adamant that it wasn't and said that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had backed him on this when he spoke to them. I then asked for their phone number so I could speak to them personally.

Basically what I was then told by them is that under EC Law 1107 (I forget the technical jargon) airlines and airports aren't answerable to the same equality laws as everyone else as far as people with disabilities are concerned. Anyway the chap then gave me the number of the Civil Aviation Authority to speak with - after been banded about from department to department I was eventually informed that unfortunately the consumer issues office is only open from 9am - 2pm and was now closed for the day. I will phone the during those times tomorrow , if only for exact clarification of EC1107. I rather feel that if people with disabilities (or our equipment) are not covered under theses equality laws then I'm inclined to take this issue much further.

I'll keep you informed as to what the CAA say tomorrow  - if only a link to the exact wording and so forth.




Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2012, 05:11:27 PM »
Having spoken to the Civil Aviation Authority complaints department today I'm informed that the airline has no right to stop a anyone taking their wheelchair (including mobility scooter) as far as the passenger likes, i.e. to the departure lounge. On request, I've given the airline's telephone number plus their number at Heathrow and await further contact from the CAA tomorrow. So far so good  >thumbsup<

seegee

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2012, 06:02:01 PM »
Sounds good up to now; keep on going (I like your avatar >biggrin<).  When are you intending to travel; do you have time to get through the slow grind of official cogs in the airline, airport, CAA?
Do the CAA have any comments to make about the responsibility of the airline to ensure that your scooter is stowed safely so it can't get damaged in transit?  I suspect the airline may try to claim that if they don't have it from check-in they can't guarantee its' safe carriage, so prepare for more obstacles (then if there aren't any, you can be happy ;-) >lol<).

Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2012, 07:18:40 PM »
Hi seegee and thanks for your comments.

I'm not due to travel until the 8th December, so plenty of time to sort it out I'd guess,

I haven't inquired about storage and so forth ,but thanks I 'll certainly raise the question. But yes ,I am only cautiously optimistic about the eventual outcome as I think , as you say , there may well be other obstacles to overcome yet.

I wonder when this is over if should also ask for a free upgrade ?  >biggrin<


Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 05:06:29 PM »
So there it is then. I've only been authoritatively informed today by the CAA that I can ride my mobility scooter right up to the boarding place on Saturday .What happens at the other end I forgot to ask .But hopefully in this will set a precedent for others who may have been fobbed off with being told that by airport regulations it's not allowed.

Hurtyback

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 05:18:25 PM »
I hope that things go smoothly and you have an enjoyable trip.

Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 05:32:43 PM »
I hope that things go smoothly and you have an enjoyable trip.

 I thank you sincerely for your wishes.

Colchy

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2012, 09:09:54 AM »
Just as an update. When I on the 8th I arrived at the check-in at Heathrow I was greeted with a handshake from a member of the airline staff and escorted through all the relevant points of departure by two very helpful and friendly members of the the airport authorities. I did in fact have some 20 minutes alone to look through the duty free and so forth , before again being escorted to the departure lounge. On arrival at Bangkok, things reverted to the usual being taken to the oversize luggage point by wheelchair to await the arrival of my scooter. I expect that there may well be a lack of communication when I depart from Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok) International Airport later next month - although I have a copy of the email from the relevant authorities in England giving me access to the departure gate at Heathrow on my mobility scooter. Nevertheless, it was good to have the small amount of freedom at Heathrow, rather than waiting to be herded around by overworked and pressurised staff in an unsuitably uncomfortable wheelchair.

Seasons greetings to one and all (even although for myself I prefer being able to go outside with hardly any visible signs of it being different to any normal day)   >cracker<



Yvette

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Re: Airport rules and regs ?
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2012, 06:45:10 PM »
Have a wonderful holiday.   >holly<