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Disability Support

Foggy in Sussex
Level Contributor
6 posts
30 reviews
Disability Support

It would be good to start a forum for disabled peoples booking experiences with the major holiday travel companies. My personal experiences have been horrendous. I have been asked to provide totally unneccesary personal information often in contravention of the EC laws for people tavelling with disabilities. Travel agents also seem to have no idea that these reulations exist. Lets make them aware

Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
514 posts
7 reviews
1. Re: Disability Support

Thanks for the post and i was also thinking of doing the same because we really need these people to enjoy tours and safaris while on holiday but they lack the necessities.

Foggy in Sussex
Level Contributor
6 posts
30 reviews
2. Re: Disability Support

Thanks for your support and response. Here is just an example of some of the problems I have encountered. Having booked a package tour with a well known but subsequently discriminatory package tour company. I wanted to book a few excursions whilst on holiday. I am a wheelchair user. I was told by the company that they could not (or would not supply an itinery for the excursion. I wanted to know how much walking, what the terrain was like etc so that I could make an informed decision as to whether to take the excursion. This company refused point blank to give me any information regarding the tour. Saying it wouldn't be possible as I was a health and safety issue. I took umbridge at this remark. They then changed their mind and I was then told that I could have an itinery, provided I paid all the money upfront for any tour I was just even considerring, even if I subsequently could not not take the excursion because of practicle difficulties.Absolutely disgraceful, not to mention an alleged breach of legislation allowing equal access to goods and services. Able bodied people are not asked for money for just a look at the itinery.There were many other instancess with this companyy. A thouroughly unenjoyable experience.

From talking to travel agents and tour companies it would appear that they are deliberately choosing to ignore EC reulations and UK governmental best practice guidelines because it is convenient for them. Tney also seem to rely on the lack of knowledge of the legislation and guidelines by customers These agencies/companies seem to think that the be all and end all of their commitment to disabled people is to supply a wheelchair at the airport. Mostly you are ok with the airports in England but on three occasions no wheeelchair was supplied for the return journey, either at the airport of departure or on return to UK. Talk about second class citizens.

London, England
Level Contributor
9,675 posts
75 reviews
3. Re: Disability Support

smarticus123

As much as I sympathise, I have mobility issues myself, the main (British) tour operators do not pretend to cater for the disabled traveller.

You don't mention the TOs you were trying to get information from or the destination you were intending to travel to. Obviously, some destinations are more disabled friendly than others.

Due to my limitations I always do my own research before I go anywhere and then decide if it would be suitable for me. In March my partner and I went on a Caribbean cruise. In the excursion information supplied by the cruise line practically every excursion was unsuitable for people with limited mobility.

We stopped at 10 different islands and I did a trip in every one of them. One or two were arranged beforehand, but some of them we just caught one of the many tour buses that are always waiting at the cruise terminals.

Everybody was helpful and i didn't encounter any problems.

Having said that, in the majority of destinations I visit I normally just rent a car and vist what I want to see.

Foggy in Sussex
Level Contributor
6 posts
30 reviews
4. Re: Disability Support

Thanks for your response. Like you I always try to do research before hand. However this particular company refused to give any details of the itinerary, unless I paid for every excursion I was interested in, in full. At some later defined time I would receive a refund for the trips I didn't take.They point blank refused to allow me to book one of the excursions on the grounds that "I was a health and safety issue" I find that incredibly insulting, not to mention discriminatory. The EC has given disabled travellers laws to protect them.from discrimination. A tacit admission that disabled people are subject to discrimination with enough regularity to warrent laws.We should not let these companies ride roughshod over the legislation just because it is convenient for them. or they think they are too big to be challenged. Some companies appear not to know the legislation even exists. The thing is, if disabled people are unaware of their rights as disabled travellers then they will never challenge the practices of certain companies. The legislation not only gives certain 'rights', it also defines what these companies can and cannot do through the whole booking process, and what services they are legally obliged to offer. For example tour companies should neither take your booking or your money if there is to be any query as to whether you are 'fit to fly' or not, depending on your particular disability. I am unable to let you know which company as an incident has been reported to the Disability and Human Rights Commision.

Cheers for your input

Edited: 06 June 2012, 17:40
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
25,994 posts
61 reviews
5. Re: Disability Support

I have worked in education for years with a focus on students with disabilities. I have found that providing people with highlighted copies of the legislation is really productive. Most people simply have no idea that they are obliged to provide non-discriminatory access for people with disabilities.

It would really help if someone provided seminars to the travel industry re their obligations. I don't know about other countries, but here, in education, it really helped to have the Disability Commissioner say "This law has been in effect for 15 years. You have no excuse" when talking about making school premises accessible. You need someone to say the same to travel personnel, including airlines and accommodation.

Foggy in Sussex
Level Contributor
6 posts
30 reviews
6. Re: Disability Support

I am in total agreement with you regarding the promotion of disability awareness. It is usually totally ignored or given fleeting reference as an 'add on' within education, and now, as I am finding out, a total lack of understanding of disability issues within the travel industry. Companies that I have spoken to seem totally unaware that EC legislation demands that disability awareness traning is compulsory.I experienced a classic example of this lack of awareness. I was on the plane waiting the arrival of the wheelchair so that I could disembark After waiting some time I asked the steward if the chair had arrived. He replied that 'actually,it had been there some time, but that he didn't think it was needed, as everybody had managed the steps up to the aircraft when boarding'. As I said, absolutely no disability awareness. If disability awareness was tought in schools, this ignorance would not be continued in later life. To be disabled because of a physical or mental issue is one thing, but to be disabled because of your environment and/or others ignorance should not be acceptable in any way shape or form. Many thanks for your input

Edited: 24 June 2012, 01:47
Carbondale...
Level Contributor
64 posts
9 reviews
7. Re: Disability Support

I just got married yesterday and I don't know where to start looking for a honeymoon (we postponed on purpose); I would LOVE a forum that focuses on the major companies' practices. I shouldn't have to do a ton of research to give my agent. Shouldn't they be aware of policies??

Teesside
Level Contributor
376 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Disability Support

Hi Lara, Congratulations on your wedding.This website should help you

http://www.disabledaccessholidays.com/

Foggy in Sussex
Level Contributor
6 posts
30 reviews
9. Re: Disability Support

Sincerest congratulations.

I totally agree with you about a forum for esposing discriminatory practices by these travel companies. Unfortunately in the past I have been told that a particular hotel is, quote "wheelchair friendly" only to find that there are small parts which are accessable whilst the rest is not. I resent being given false info in order to make a sale. The difficulty is that there is no standard definition of wheelchair accessable or wheelchair friendly. Companies use this excuse to wriggle when these phrases are queried. It is not all doom and gloom though. I have found that whilst the tour or holiday companies may not have a clue, the staff in most resorts are only to eager to help, which is really refreshing. Wishing you every happiness, and good luck with the honeymoon location.

It is worth checking out the EC website for Persons Flying with Reduced Mobility to give you an idea of how you should be treated and what the legalities are. Good luck and every happiness

Mount Dora, Florida
Level Contributor
14,158 posts
242 reviews
10. Re: Disability Support

I have virtually no interaction with tour groups or travel agencies so I have no personal experience of discrimination. Like some of the other posters I always make my own arrangements, and I try to investigate my destination from un-biased sources.

If a travel agency told me I could not take a tour because I represented a safety risk to them that would tell me to stay away from them. Regardless of how many laws you waive in front of this type of attitude, it rarely changes. I would avoid places where people view me as a liability.

I do expect hotels, buses, trains, and planes to meet their legal obligation to provide for my needs, but I have fewer expectations for small business operations like travel agencies.

If a company refused to provide me with details until I paid for the tour I would certainly not do business with them even if I had no disability issue.

It is always a good idea to check about disability friendly properties. We spent two weeks in Italy in February, and I carefully selected properties with elevators. I did not check to see what size the elevators were because I had never seen an elevator the size of an old-fashioned phone booth. We had to take my scooter apart piece by piece and move it up the elevator one part at a time. It was inconvenient, but technically the hotel was accessible, but it was certainly not convenient.

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