Virgin Blue improves policy for travelers with disability- but further improvements are required

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) welcome changes to Virgin Blue’s proposed Carer’s policy.

The policy, which was to take effect today, required passengers with mobility disabilities to provide their own assistant to assist in boarding and disembarking aircraft.

On Tuesday, PIAC lodged a complaint on behalf of Maurice Corcoran, with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), on the basis that the Virgin Blue policy discriminated against people with disabilities. Today, Virgin Blue amended its policy to limit its effect to passengers weighing over 130 kilograms.

Robin Banks, Chief Executive Officer of PIAC said:

‘We welcome the changes to the Virgin policy. However, we are still concerned about the onflight requirement that a passenger travel with a carer if they cannot secure oxygen masks, don life jackets, fasten their seat belt or understand, respond to and follow directions in an emergency. In addition to mobility disabilities, this policy will mean that many other people with disabilities may also be required to travel with a carer. This policy is extraordinary in the context of airline travel – we are not aware of any other airline with a similar requirement.’

Maurice Corcoran, Chair of Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) said:

‘I welcome HREOC’s intervention following my complaint, and Virgin’s amendments to the policy. However, I am concerned it does not go far enough at this stage and it still requires passengers with disabilities, such as myself, to undertake actions that are physically impossible for us to do as independent travelers. I welcome the opportunity to further advance discussions between Virgin, HREOC, PIAC and AFDO.’

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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