Flying for Wheelchair Users

Disability and mobility issues within the TRNC. Help and information from members regarding problems faced with access issues within the TRNC as well as other information required concerning disability matters.

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Ragged Robin
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Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

I wonder how many Kibcomers read "Cyprus Today" and have read İpek Özerim's article "Failing wheelchair users at the airport"? I do not usually promote any newspapers let alone CT, but I hope you will all buy, borrow , beg or steal a copy of 6th Jan. issue. For wheelchair users and their carers it is a must.

Unfortunately I cant copy it here, and anyway am not sure about copyright issues, but basically it is the story of the reporter's journey from Stanstead to Ercan via Izmir, travelling by Pegagus with her frail, arthritic and wheelchair-bound mother. It makes very upsetting reading, and the treatment of wheelchair-bound passengers and breach of their advertised facilities is alarming. As a result of the amount of time spent waiting around on the tarmac for promised facilities for frail passengers resulted in mother becthe reporter's mother sadly becoming very ill by the time she arrived in Cyprus.

According to the article all three airports involved (Gatwick, Izmir and Ercan) as well as the airline (Pegasus) failed in their duty to disabled passengers and in the case of Gatwick relied on carers (who in many cases are not necessarily very strong themselves) to push the wheelchairs even though assistance ha been booked in advance. Incidentally, they had decided to travel via Izmir as they had been put off Istanbul by reports of unsatisfactory service for the disabled there.

This is bad new for any disabled person wanting to travel by air. To me it is also a demonstration of the failure of "society" , and particularly the profit making element of it, rather than respecting the needs and rights of the disabled and right of the elderly, frail and disabled and their carers. Sadly the failure to recognise the problems of the less fortunate is echoed in the attitudes of individuals.

I congratulate Ms Özerim and Cyprus Today for highlighting this issue.

PS I saw on a recent BBC report that people cannot stay in their wheelchairs or disability scooters on aircraft because of safety consideration but have to be moved to fixed seats in the airpane. This results in some serious cases being unable to fly at all. The BBC spsaid that a company was now looking into the development of special disability vehicles than could be fixed in special slots in the fuselage floor wiithout the user moving..
However this is not only very much in the future but in the USA!

Cally
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Cally »

I am puzzled....

"Unfortunately I cant copy it here, and anyway am not sure about copyright issues, but basically it is the story of the reporter's journey from Stanstead to Ercan via Izmir, travelling by Pegagus with her frail, arthritic and wheelchair-bound mother"

then this is followed by .....

"According to the article all three airports involved (Gatwick, Izmir and Ercan) as well as the airline (Pegasus) failed in their duty to disabled passengers and in the case of Gatwick relied on carers (who in many cases are not necessarily very strong themselves) to push the wheelchairs even though assistance ha been booked in advance. Incidentally, they had decided to travel via Izmir as they had been put off Istanbul by reports of unsatisfactory service for the disabled there."

So is the flight in question ....Stansted-Izmir-Ercan or Gatwick-Izmir-Ercan........

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

So sorry, I got my UK Airports confused. When I lived in England I lived 20 mins from Heathrow, so always flew from there and the others are unchartered territory to me.

According to the report it was Stansted

Thanks for taking the trouble to read my post, Cally.

jacob
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by jacob »

\I was taken very ill and hospitalised on my last visit to TRNC. My son came over to bring me home, I could barely walk and needed a wheelchair.

We flew out of Larnaca to Heathrow and I cannot speak highly enough of staff at Larnaca. sadly a Heathrow the experience was truly awful, no wheelchair, no assistance until my son complained. He did inform both Larnaca and Heathrow of my needs.

So praise for Lca and disgust for Heathrow.

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

Thank you very much for the Jacob , it will be useful for the disabled and their carers needing to return to the UK. I normally disapprove of contributing to the RoC economy, but it these cases it seems it is justified. Although it is shocking and worrying how bad the UK Airports appear to be ..

Anyone else got any experiences of disabled travel they could share with us?

emineden
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by emineden »

My Wife, who is wheelchair bound, and I have travelled Ercan to Ankara with Pegasus on at least 3 occasions and have never had a problem. We are met at the booking desk and then taken all the way onto the plane, then with extra assistance for my wife lifting her into her seat. At our destination lifted from the seat and taken all the way through security and customs to our car. Usually getting priority at security before boarding and upon arrival.

tomsteel
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by tomsteel »

Whilst I am 70+, I have few mobility issues, nor mental/dementia problems. I have flown with both TA and Pegasus to and from the UK via ECN and Turkey last year. At each airport wheelchair-bound passengers were assisted by 'staff', given priority boarding and de-planed last with special facilities organised. I am unsure if they were given special seating arrangements, but they appeared to be at the front of the aircraft. Rightly so too!

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

Thank you emineden and tomsteel for your very helpful contributions.... It seems that it is a matter of luck if you get helpful attention - although part of the CT reporter's problem may be that she travelled on Boxing Day. Doesnt 'bother me personally as I hate crowds anyway and avoid travelling by any means on Bank Holidays - but it does seem unfair that the disabled should have problems if they want to visit their families at Christmas etc.

Does anyone have experience of flying with a disability scooter? It is battery propelled so would not need anyone to push it, and I could probably manage in the aircraft myself by using the back of seats - I have done it in a coach. But there is is no way I could get up the steps to the aircraft unaided.
And if there were long delays would there be anywhere I could plug it in to recharge the batteries.

Another point . I had a friend who was seriously arthritic but very independent and refused to use a wheelchair. However she had to give in for flying because of the long time spent standing and walking. She said one of the worst things about wheelchair assistance is that you could not visit and use duty free. Does anyone have experience of that?

Maisiemoo
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Maisiemoo »

We always fly through Larnaca and have to say the Disability Assistance there is first class. We are always asked if we wish to use Duty Free as they wheel my husband to the gate. The assistance at Heathrow we found to be dire, long waits to even get the necessary assistance and a 'don't care' attitude from the staff. 95% of the time assistance at Gatwick is very good, but have been known to have to wait on the plane for assistance to arrive when landing but that's been because they have been very busy. I am sure that if you asked they would be quite happy to take you to Duty Free.

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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by jayceebee »

My mum uses a disability scooter and so requires a wheelchair when flying. She has done so Manchester to Larnaca and return 3 times in the last 14 months using both Cobalt and Jet 2. Both airlines and airports are excellent in providing assistance . Jet2 have a dedicated phone line for customers to use to ensure all details are re-confirmed for passengers requiring such assistance. Larnaca Airport have dedicated staff for wheelchair assistance. Their control station just inside the departures section can be contacted from the dedicated drop off area in front of the terminal building.

artic monkey
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by artic monkey »

My wife and i have travelled regularly over the past 14 years from Dublin to Ercan with Turkish Airlines,our first choice,and,more recently Dublin to Larnaca with Cobalt and Belfast to Larnaca with Thomas Cook/TUI;due i must say to the extortionate fares being asked of late by Turkish Airlines.We occasionally bring our friend along,a Parkinson`s sufferer.He has limited mobility and can get around for short distances with his stick but requires a wheelchair for the long walk to some of the furthest gates.We usually request wheelchair assistance for him and on one occasion brought his mobility scooter along,the majority of the experiences were positive but there were a couple of hiccups among them.
Once at Dublin and once at Larnaca the assistance was not present,both times we asked could we borrow the wheelchair ourselves and it was supplied without a problem.At Istanbul,usually Ataturk there was never a problem,the assistant,male or female was always most helpful,on one trip actually running us through the terminal to ensure we caught our connection to Ercan.When requested the assistant would leave us at a bar or restaurant and come back in time to take us to the gate for boarding,we would also be brought through the express security check lane.So all in all our experiences were fairly positive.The one major gripe was when we took the mobility scooter,with Turkish Airlines.Upon returning to Dublin we found that there was some damage to the dials.We reported this immediately at the desk and were given a complaint/damages form and contact details.After numerous telephone calls,some to Istanbul,and many e-mails,one or two promising to get back to us but mostly unanswered,we gave up,exasperated and our friend paid £120 to have it repaired himself.
P.S.,Ragged Robin,check if your battery is dry cell or wet,you may have problems if it is wet cell.
Some spread happiness wherever they go,others,whenever they go.

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

Many thanks for that most comprehensive and helpful reply artic monkey. I am a little concerned about your report of damage to the scooter particularly as it reminded me of an incident some years ago when a partially paralysed friend visited Cyprus and on return to UK found that her brand new state of the art wheelchair had been irreversibly damaged. I would want to use my mobility scooter as I would need it at the other end So - it would be a disaster if it were damaged. How did your friend cope till his was repaired? Is it possible in the UK to hire scooters in an emergency?

Sorry to sound naive but the last time I visited UK was in 2000, and the last time I flew (to Istanbul) over 5 years ago. The whole thing is unchartered territory for me and I suspect will be something of a shock!

artic monkey
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by artic monkey »

Ragged Robin wrote: How did your friend cope till his was repaired? Is it possible in the UK to hire scooters in an emergency?
Good news and not so good news here R.R..The mobility scooter dealer is a friend of our friends brother,(one of the advantages of a small population/community like Northern Ireland),so he lent our friend a scooter while the parts were ordered and his was repaired,about 10 days in all.
There is a premises in Central Belfast that i know of that does hire out scooters but,and i may be wrong here,i think that they are for short term use only while the user is shopping in the city centre.I would not know of the situation in England,Scotland,Wales.
Some spread happiness wherever they go,others,whenever they go.

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

Thank for your reply artic monkey. Seems I will have to do some searches on the Internet re mobility scooter availability in the Uk. All I have seen so far are for sale, no hires. Meantime just hope I do no actually have togo there!

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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by mrsgee »

I have used the assisted mobility facility, firstly for my mother in law 9 years ago from Ercan....very efficient but I believe you need to book in advance. Turkish Airlines were excellent, did what they were supposed to do...and got her back to Birmingham, comfortably. I have used it myself 5 years ago, not that I am disabled in that particular way, but suffered Lyme Disease over here, for anyone who is not aware this is a serious illness which is transmitted by ticks, but I digress. I found the facility to be excellent....wheelchair onto the plane at Ercan, met at Istanbul, one of those lovely seats that wizz you along with a guy standing on the back.....have to say hubby had a bit of a problem keeping up....lol......end to end service, absolutely no problem.

Ragged Robin
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Re: Flying for Wheelchair Users

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Post by Ragged Robin »

Thank you for that, Mrs Gee, and also for pointing out that it is not necessarily the disabled who only need special facilities. Normally able bodied, fit people sometimes need them temporarily as a result of accident or illness. Another reason for putting pressure on builders and building owners to provide facilities.

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