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IATA announces New 2023 Guidance to improve Transportation of Mobility aids.

by The Business Pinnacle
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New guidance that will facilitate transport for customers with disabilities – IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced new guidance to help airlines and handling agents transport mobility aids safely and effectively while also enhancing the travel experience for customers with disabilities.

Airlines place a high focus on ensuring the safe, dependable, and respectable transportation of passengers with disabilities, which was reaffirmed by a unanimously accepted Resolution at the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in 2019. Working with industry participants and disability groups, airlines recognized the secure and effective carriage of mobility aids as a significant area for improvement.

Airlines are dedicated to making sure that people with disabilities may fly in dignity, comfort, and confidence. Working with leaders from the disability community, we determined that new protocols were urgently needed to enhance the transport of mobility devices. According to Nick Careen, senior vice president for operations, safety, and security at IATA.

This new guidance, developed in collaboration with key players in the travel chain, will improve service and significantly reduce damage to these vital devices that are frequently an extension of the body of a passenger with a disability, Careen added.

Key features of the new guidance consist of:

  • Improved processes for booking and information exchange, as well as the use of Special Service Request (SSR) and Passenger Name Requirement (PNR) codes to give advance information on the specifications of mobility aids.
  • A recommendation to generate an electronic mobility aid tag, fixed to the mobility aid and containing technical information which will help airlines and ground handlers transport the aid safely.
  • Advice to airlines on developing a communications toolkit for engaging with passengers with disabilities, including a clearly signposted and accessible website area.
  • Best practices for loading, collection and return of mobility aids.
  • A recommendation for dedicated specialized ramp personnel to be trained and deployed to handle mobility aids.
  • Guidance for how to properly resolve instances where mobility aids are damaged.
  • Revised and enhanced training of ground handlers and airline staff.

Experience demonstrates that better communication is essential to enhancing the use of mobility aids. This advice outlines how passengers, airlines, and the entire travel chain can communicate information at each stop along the way.

It will improve airline performance and boost the confidence of wheelchair users. The industry will contact lawmakers to encourage compliance with national rules, and we’ll be working with our members and stakeholders to operationalize this advice, said Careen.

Industry best practices

The IATA guidance indicates and develops industry best practices and will continue to be revised and expanded prior to advancing into industry standards. IATA’s other aspects include recommendations for airport designs to meet accessibility standards, including definite guidance to ensure compliance with the Dangerous Goods Regulations (for lithium-battery powered devices). In addition to in-depth instructions on safely and securely loading mobility aids on board.

Major issues

Some of the major issues that disabled people encounter when traveling include, not accessible bus tours and lack of designated areas for wheelchair space, while those traveling by plane will have to be seated on airplane seats as it isn’t possible to onboard a plane in a wheelchair.

Furthermore, some travelers could even have their wheelchairs damaged during traveling or need to be accompanied during their trip, which also can be inconvenient for this classification.

In addition, very few accommodation locations have hotel rooms for disabled people, demonstrating a lack of awareness of the challenges that disabled people deal with when traveling.

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