Disability Discrimination: air travel

In 2008, Virgin Blue changed its Independent Travel Criteria so that people who could not fasten their seatbelt, put on an oxygen mask or put on a lifejacket without assistance had to travel with a paying companion. This policy discriminated against some people with disabilities, making air travel prohibitively expensive.

PIAC represented applicants in disability discrimination complaints against Virgin Blue in Corcoran v Virgin Blue and Ferguson v Virgin Blue. The complaints were successfully resolved by mediation prior to hearing, in January 2009.

In October 2009, Virgin Blue released its Independent Travel Criteria so that Mr Corcoran, Mr Ferguson and other people with a disability could travel without having to pay for a travelling companion. The new Independent Travel Criteria are enshrined in orders made by the Federal Court with the consent of the parties.

Mr Corcoran and Mr Fergusson were represented in the Federal Court by PIAC, with Dr Chris Birch SC of Garfield Barwick Chambers and Mr Simeon Beckett of Maurice Byers Chambers.

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