Flying can be a challenge for wheelchair users, as explained by Frank Gardner of the BBC in his feature covering aircraft mobility. Each year, more than 2 million passengers with a disability fly in and out of the UK alone and annual growth in air passengers with reduced mobility has been far higher than other sectors in recent times.
Airlines are under increased scrutiny to ensure all passengers are treated equally and receive the best possible experience. For those who can not move around unaided, an efficient, on board wheelchair is an essential aid to enable air travel.
Aircraft wheelchairs vary and in Frank Gardner’s film of his experience, he described a poorly designed on-board wheelchair as “this thing”.
Great consideration has been given to the design of the Airchair so that it is as comfortable for the passenger as possible. The seat and backrest are made from high quality, fire retardant leather. The frame is robust, creating a very stable wheelchair that can take weights up to 250kg (550lb) and the thigh and waist straps make the passenger feel safe when seated.
The castors on the Airchair enable a smooth, 360 degree movement, so that the narrow aisles can be navigated easily. The retracting back rest is a unique feature that significantly improves transfer between the Airchair and aircraft seat, or the Airchair to an aircaft’s toilet. As well as preserving dignity, accidents and back injuries are avoided.
Standards & Regulations
The Airchair conforms to the following specifications:
- EU 1107/2006
- UK DPTAC
- US DoT 14 CFR 382
There are too many accounts of wheelchair users being restricted to their seat during flights, unable to access facilities, or disembark in a rational way. Overcoming this is a start but passengers also have a right to good quality support.
How an airline provides this will directly impact on user experience and ultimately, reputation. Unnecessary stress does not build recommendation.
If you have never been in a wheelchair, or worked with family members who are, picturing the barriers you meet is difficult. Just imagine being on a long haul flight and unable to go to the toilet, or being taken there in an undignified way. The alternative is to offer a user friendly, on board wheelchair, that makes the flight a positive experience.