Make air travel inclusive for people with disability

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My name is Noah, I live with quadriplegia cerebral palsy. Because of my disability, I cannot support or bear the weight of any part of my body. One of the most unnecessary challenges I face is travelling on planes. I think it’s time airlines stopped making air travel so demeaning and difficult for people with disabilities.

I use an electric wheelchair that is specifically designed to support my full body weight, to ensure my safety and comfort. I cannot use the regular wheelchairs offered by airlines as they aren’t equipped to fully support me. I need to stay in my motorised wheelchair until the last possible moment. Australian airlines need to step up and allow dignified air travel for people with disability. Special motorised wheelchairs must be made available.

My air travel experiences have been undignified and have compromised my safety. In the past, I have been lifted from my chair by a hydraulic lift while my carer precariously supports me. My carer has to carry me to my designated seat which is usually a fair way down the plane. It is awkward, demeaning and dangerous. Not only is it an OHS issue for my carer, but also unsafe for me to have my complete bodyweight on one person. Besides, it is absolutely inappropriate that a grown man like me is subjected to this degradation when instead airlines can start providing special motorised wheelchairs to support us.

To continue the spectacle, planes don’t have the capacity to store my chair because of its non-standard dimensions and weight. It is 2020 and people with disability are still not treated with the care and respect we deserve. Airlines need to assign special space for any such equipment that people with disability may necessarily carry.

I am hoping eventually that laws may change in relation to travelling in an electric wheelchair and that one day I may be able to sit in my own chair on an aeroplane similar to what is currently allowed in a vehicle. I know that America is considering such options, and hopefully, other countries will follow.

Please sign and share my petition to demand inclusive treatment for people with disability by Australian airlines. A one-size-fits-all approach is not enough.