Access at any altitude

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organisation, said that inconsistency is one of the biggest issues in providing passengers with disabilities with a safe, reliable, and dignified service.

In the US, for example, the applicability of regulations regarding carriage of emotional support animals in air transport lacks consistency. Wheelchairs and scooters are being made with lithium-ion batteries but there are strict guidelines about lithium-ion carriage by air.

Decisions about how passengers with disabilities travel in the future need to be made today. Lipp noted this isn’t just a social issue but a financial one too. The group is already the largest minority and, as the world population ages, will only grow.

Technology has a role to play. In Japan, they are working on an automatic wheelchair that will be summoned by smartphone, scan its client’s boarding pass, and then take the client to the correct gate.
“People want to be independent,” said Lipp, but noted that this independence will only be possible if the industry, governments and supporting organisations work together. He ended with a hashtag for his ultimate aim: #access at any altitude.

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