GLOBAL ACCESS NEWS TRAVEL E-ZINE

VOLUME VIII, NUMBER 9, September 2007

Copyright © 2007, Global Access News

http://www.globalaccessnews.com/

 

Please note: Any Internet links mentioned in this e-zine were verified as functioning as of the date listed at the top of this zine. However, web sites and e-mail addresses change frequently, so changes may have occurred after that date.

 

================================

 

Welcome to the September 2007 issue of the Global Access News Travel E-Zine. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to write us and share your travel tips and experiences.

 

================================

 

CONTENTS

 

1. AIRLINE COMPLAINTS

2. VERMONT’S ACCESSIBLE TRAILS

3. LONDON ON WHEELS  

4. HOTELS.COM DISCRIMINATION SUIT
5. TRAVEL TIDBITS CHICAGO’S ACCESSIBLE KIOSKS

6. LAS VEGAS MONORAIL

7. ARIZONA: LAKE POWELL HOUSEBOATS
 

================================

 

1. AIRLINE COMPLAINTS
 

The nation’s airlines have had a rough ride this summer and many travelers have had a less than satisfying experience with them. The following accounts detail the complaints of two disabled travelers who flew with US Airways and United Airlines.

 

Rebecca Beeson, of Tucson, AZ, shared her letter of complaint to US Airways concerning the inadequate care given her aged stepfather who is hearing impaired.

 

July 28, 2007

US Airways

Customer Relations/ Disability Team

400 East Sky Harbor Blvd

Phoenix AZ 85034

 

Dear Customer Relations:

 

My family and I had a very difficult experience with your airline on July 19, 2007 at the Phoenix airport. The following is a synopsis of the events that occurred.

 

My stepfather,  Luis Rico, who is 89 years old, blind, very hard of hearing, medically  frail, and sometimes confused was put on US Airways flight #587 from El Paso to Phoenix. He had attended a funeral in El Paso the previous day. Unfortunately, the only alternative the family had to return him home to Tucson was to put him on that particular flight #587 to Phoenix where he would only have to fly one hour. Arrangements were made for me to travel from Tucson to Phoenix to meet him. His granddaughter secured an escort pass in El Paso and made sure he was on the plane safely. Bernadette, the granddaughter, called me as I was enroute to Phoenix to make sure I would be there in times to make sure he would be met in accordance with the arrangements that were made for.

 

I arrived at the airport at 6:00 p.m. with Mr. Rico’s wife and waited at the baggage area where Mr. Rico was supposed to be escorted by wheelchair. His flight was scheduled to arrive at 6:17pm. At 6:55, after all the passengers had filtered through the baggage area I went to the nearby “INFORMATION AREA” by the baggage carousels who informed me they could not do anything to help; they referred me to the ticket counter. I went to the ticket counter and told the ticket agent I was having difficulty finding my stepfather and needed assistance. I explained the nature of his disabilities and asked him for help in locating my stepfather. The agent told me I should have him paged. When I explained my stepfather is deaf and could not hear a page the agent told me his “escort” should hear the page and know what to do. I then insisted the agent call the gate where the flight arrived and ask if there was a “lost” passenger. The agent argued with me that is would not be of any use to call the gate. When I insisted, he did call the gate and when there was no answer he said "I didn’t think that would do any good” “Your best bet is to page”. I then placed a page.  I was very surprised that the ticket counter and the gate agents do not have radio communications.

 

I returned downstairs to the baggage area. An airport volunteer offered to help me when he noticed I was upset and something seemed wrong. The volunteer pulled out his cell phone and called US Airways. I received baggage claims and when I explained my situation they stated they only handled baggage and could do nothing to help me.

           

I then encountered two security agents and explained what was going on. I believe they notified airport police. The security agents then stopped an escort from the airport vendor (Prospect)---the escort’s name was Larry Garner and he stopped what he was doing to help me.

 

Mr. Garner took me back to the ticketing counter. This time, we found a different US Airways agent who acknowledged that “something” was going on up in the US Airways terminal. Mr. Garner escorted me to the terminal to try to find my stepfather.

 

As we came upon the checkpoint, I found me stepfather walking and holding on to an America West supervisor named Tracey Gallagher. Mr. Rico is a very high risk for falls and should never have been allowed to walk without assistance.

 

I asked Ms. Gallagher what had happened and how she came to care for Mr. Rico.

She explained he had approached her and pleaded for help. He did not know where he was, how he got there, where he had come from or where he lived. He could not remember my last name. When I questioned him, he said nobody came for him in the plane; he walked out and went to the bathroom. When he came out, he was very confused and didn’t know where to go. He did not know who to ask for help. By the time, Ms. Gallagher delivered him to me he was in tears.

 

Ms. Gallagher was very professional and gave my stepfather a heartfelt, sincere apology for the things that had gone wrong. I will always be grateful for her sensitivity to the situation.

 

Mr. Garner secured a wheelchair and we went off in search of Mr. Rico’s walker. To condense the story, Mr. Garner went above and beyond in helping us with our situation; again, I was so grateful for his professionalism and humanity.

 

The security guards (I am sorry, no names) remained with my mother in baggage claim to make sure she did not wander off. The volunteer was also excellent and paid special attention to her and made sure her needs were taken care of.

 

I am writing with the hope US Airways reevaluates staff training in regard to older passengers with special needs. I doubt this would have happened if this had been a cute, 7-year-old child. I also expect Mr. Rico receive a written letter of apology from your airline.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide any further information. I am certain Mr. Rico’s granddaughter, Bernadette Gallegos, filed a complaint with Customer Service right after the incident. Thank you for you attention to this matter and we look forward to a response soon.

 

Rebecca Beeson (stepdaughter to Mr. Luis Rico)

 

Editor’s note: Ms. Rico said that she would share the airlines response after she receives one.

 

On August 12, the Washington Post printed the following case where United Airlines lost the wheelchair of a double amputee for six months. Check it out at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/10/AR2007081000771.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter
 

================================

 

2. VERMONT’S ACCESSIBLE TRAILS

 

If leaf peeping is on your autumn list, Vermont has some new wheelchair accessible trails for you. Read all about them in this informative article by Associated Press Writer, David Gram.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2007-08-22-vermont-accessible-trails_N.htm?csp=Travel

 

================================

 

3. LONDON ON WHEELS  

 

Derek Guzman, who previously offered accessible walking tours of Paris, has recently started a new London service for disabled visitors. Guzman provides walking tours and guide/attendant services for wheelchair users and other disabled travelers. Learn more at http://londononwheels.tripod.com

 

================================

 

4, HOTELS.COM DISCRIMINATION SUIT
 

Disabled travelers who book their accommodations on-line have long been frustrated by the refusal of some on-line hotel reservation sites to guarantee them wheelchair accessible rooms. A recent California class action suit filed against Hotels.com may soon alter that practice. See the details at

http://www.ibls.com/internet_law_news_portal_view.aspx?s=latestnews&id=1837

 

================================

 

5. TRAVEL TIDBITS

 

Occupational Therapist, Karin Coetzee, of South Africa, wrote to share the news of her new web site, Proudly Accessible.  According to Coetzee, the aim of the site is to evaluate establishments and display information regarding the most "wheelchair-friendly" places in the country. Visit her site at http://www.disabledtravel.co.za/

 

By early 2008, disabled travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports will have nine wheelchair accessible kiosks to faciliate their needs. The kiosks will feature a video phone and  access information about Chicago’s top  tourist venues.

 

================================

 

6. LAS VEGAS MONORAIL

 

Kent R. Davies, of Phoenix, Arizona, describes the benefits of using the Las Vegas Monorail to help navigate the lengthy distances between the various casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. http://www.globalaccessnews.com/las_vegas_monorail07.htm

 

================================

 

 7. ARIZONA: LAKE POWELL HOUSEBOATS


Kent R. Davies
, of Phoenix, Arizona, discovered that houseboats can  be accessible to wheelchair users. The houseboats he describes in the scenic Lake Powell, AZ, region illustrate the possibilities of blending boats and wheelchairs.  http://www.globalaccessnews.com/lakepowell07.htm

 

================================

 

Missed a Travel E-Zine? Catch up on a previous issue by visiting our E-Zine Archive at http://www.globalaccessnews.com/travel_ezine_archive.htm

 

================================

 

Global Access News welcomes your travel reports, tips and comments at clearpath@cox.net Thanks for sharing!

 

================================

 

Back to Travel E-Zine Archives


Back to Global Access News Index Page  

Copyright © Global Access News 1995-2010 "All Rights Reserved"