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Virgin Run by Bean-Counters and OHS

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Virgin Run by Bean-Counters and OHS

Old 29th May 2006, 23:32
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Virgin Run by Bean-Counters and OHS

SMH - 30 May 2006

Airline to wheelchair users: pay a carer

DISABILITY groups have reacted angrily to revised rules for wheelchair users on Virgin Blue, saying they had been told they would have to pay for carers to accompany them on flights.
Paul Nunnari, a Paralympics medalist who has propelled himself thousands of kilometres, said airline staff had told him he would have to be accompanied by a carer.

Women With Disabilities Australia says one of its members has also been advised by Virgin of a policy change which would mean that people who could not evacuate themselves in an emergency would not be allowed to fly alone.

The airline's spokeswoman, Heather Jeffery, last night said the airline had produced a more detailed policy on special needs passengers, or "guests", to take effect this Thursday.
But she denied it would mean more wheelchair users would have to pay for carers to accompany them.

Ms Jeffery denied the policy discriminated against wheelchair users, and said more and better equipment would be available for disabled passengers.

The airline was also taking account of the "wellbeing of our own staff who do their utmost to support guests whenever possible and in the past that has meant very manual support" as well as occasional requests for assistance getting to and from the toilet and with medications, requests which the airline could not always meet.

The airline's policy states that its staff will not be able to help passengers needing assistance in getting to and from the toilet.

It also states that from Thursday Virgin Blue would require disabled passengers in some circumstances where they did not have a carer travelling with them to arrange for their own "assistance person" at departure and arrival points to help them on and off the aircraft.
The federal Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, said yesterday the new policy, as he understood it, was "a major backward step" and an issue which the commission would take up with aviation authorities.

He said the move had been taken "without any consultation to my knowledge with the disability organisations or my commission".

Nunnari, the athlete tagged "the marathon machine", who took silver at the Sydney Paralympics, said Virgin Blue had told him that from June 1 if he needed help to get to his aircraft seat, he would have to have a carer. Nunnari requires assistance to transfer to and from his wheelchair to smaller on-board wheelchairs to get to his seat.

"This is a completely antiquated and ludicrous notion," Nunnari said, adding a Virgin clerk had also told him he would have to have a carer in the event of an emergency.
Nunnari's protest has been backed by his local federal MP, Liberal marathon runner Pat Farmer, who said he had checked with the airline and got the same response from its staff.

Mr Farmer, member for the south-western Sydney seat of Macarthur, said if the airline did not change its policy he was prepared to push for legislative change.

"I am furious about this … This is cost-cutting gone mad," Mr Farmer said.
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Old 29th May 2006, 23:47
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Gday,

It has got nothing to do with cost cutting. It is an OSH issue.

If you have ever seen two 55kg F/A's trying to lift a 100kg pax into a wheelchair, you know what I mean.

Still, I believe the airline should provide suitable access and assistance to all pax.

A touchy subject for sure

My 2 cents...

Cheers,

Con
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Old 30th May 2006, 00:01
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I know QF has some kind of lifting device to help with the oh and s concerns. I don't know too much about it, but know they have something.
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Old 30th May 2006, 00:06
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Lest you think this is just a Virgin problem, I have a disabled friend who is highly critical of Qantas for not having a disabled toilet on its aircraft.

As he is extremely wealthy and highly independent (think titanium wheelchair and hand controlled Mercedes), he likes to travel quite a bit - with his carer, and the absence of a disabled toilet is of great distress to him.

I can well understand VB or J* having trouble with some of the obese wheelchair bound slags that loudly demand "their rights".

I don't think this issue is going to go away any time soon.
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Old 30th May 2006, 01:30
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What is J*'s policy on wheelchair pax, or disabled pax?
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Old 30th May 2006, 03:20
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Originally Posted by Contract Con
It has got nothing to do with cost cutting. It is an OSH issue.
If you have ever seen two 55kg F/A's trying to lift a 100kg pax into a wheelchair, you know what I mean.
Considering that check in baggage is limited to 32KGS (?) or it gets sent through special handling. And that's on terra firma... what's it going to be like struggling with a disabled passenger in a confined space in turbulance?

This time I'm on the airline's side as they are protecting their staff. Some of the things F/As HAVE to do for disabled passengers are not covered in the operations manual or workplace agreements. All F/As are not trained nurses. Sure, we all do what we can out of compassion... but what happens when things go wrong in this ever increasingly litigation mad society?
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Old 30th May 2006, 03:52
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Originally Posted by YesTAM
As he is extremely wealthy and highly independent (think titanium wheelchair and hand controlled Mercedes),
The more money they have, the more value they put on their own opinions

Hugely wealthy? Not happy with airline service?

Corporate and business aviation could be the answer for you! How 'bout a PC12/Kingair/Citation/Falcon/Gulfstream with an interior modified to your exacting needs.

Only one thing worse than a whinger -- a rich whinger
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Old 30th May 2006, 04:18
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Disabled and elderly

This issue's never going away. But fair enough though, definitely an OHS issue. The same goes for elderly people that need assistance ie Dementia patients, blind passengers etc.

It is all too easy to jump up and down and yell discrimination, but common sense should tell you it's a response to safety. No cost cutting there. The people in the article are disabled athletes, obviously who are more able bodied than the majority of disabled people flying.

How about some of the smaller aircraft without slides of F/A's, you'd have to just about carry elderly and disabled people off in an emergency risking breakages and possiblity of injury. Legal nightmare. Compassion sure but safety first. VB perhaps should have a reduced rate for carers etc on board.
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Old 30th May 2006, 04:49
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Here, Here!

All those non-amble, disabled, elderly, frail, dimentiaured, blind. Go catch the bus! How dare you expect a little extra service.

Better still, shoot the lot of them - they are way too much trouble and way too much of a risk to the staff we care so much about! and let's not start on the way they overburden the health system. Society would be so much better if we didn't have to deal with them - they are such an imposition. Moreover, it's not fair that all the best parking spaces at the shops are reserved for disabled. Never see them parked there anyway - what a waste!

While we're at it, lets ban babies (might get hurt when you chuck them down the slides and besides they cry too much), women (men) in stockings (friction burn risk), doomsayers (they knew what was coming), fat people (they eat all the peanuts anyway) and the annoying bloke who never stops whining (cause we can).

Man, I'm sure glad I'm perfect.

Last edited by murgatroid; 30th May 2006 at 05:06.
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Old 30th May 2006, 05:05
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[QUOTE=YesTAM]the absence of a disabled toilet is of great distress to him.QUOTE]

The 76 has got one mid cabin. Not sure about other types.

VB and Jester dont have em, might only be possible on widebody AC?
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Old 30th May 2006, 05:38
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Here, Here!
All those non-amble, disabled, elderly, frail, dimentiaured, blind. Go catch the bus! How dare you expect a little extra service.
Better still, shoot the lot of them - they are way too much trouble and way too much of a risk to the staff we care so much about! and let's not start on the way they overburden the health system. Society would be so much better if we didn't have to deal with them - they are such an imposition. Moreover, it's not fair that all the best parking spaces at the shops are reserved for disabled. Never see them parked there anyway - what a waste!
While we're at it, lets ban babies (might get hurt when you chuck them down the slides and besides they cry too much), women (men) in stockings (friction burn risk), doomsayers (they knew what was coming), fat people (they eat all the peanuts anyway) and the annoying bloke who never stops whining (cause we can).
Man, I'm sure glad I'm perfect.
What a childish response.

While I sympathise with all people with disabilities and their unfortunate set of circumstances, I don't see how it then becomes everybody elses problem to deal with.
If a person becomes disabled ( or differently abled to be politically correct ), it is going to present many hurdles in their everyday life.

One cannot determine what hand an individual will be dealt, and there is no guarantee of good health for any of us.
Of course, we should offer compassion and assistance where we can, but ultimately the individual with the disability is the one who must make the greatest number of changes to their lifestyle.
This could mean that for a certain type of disability, air travel may not be practical, and alternatives may need to be found.

Please don't think for one moment that I am being unsympathetic towards people who are less fortunate than myself. But it is a fact of life that disabilities may preclude a person from certain activities, and they may not be able to do the things that an able-bodied person can.

BW
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Old 30th May 2006, 07:20
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Jet* actually have a special toilet on the a/c for wheel chairs, @ the rear of the cabin, where they can leave the door open and pull a curtain around so nobody can see in. They also have a wheel chair onboard if needed
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Old 30th May 2006, 08:33
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Virgin Blue would require disabled passengers in some circumstances where they did not have a carer travelling with them to arrange for their own "assistance person" at departure and arrival points to help them on and off the aircraft.
I heard the DJ spokeswoman make that statement this morning and it clearly has absolutely everything to do with cost-cutting. That is an aspect of disabled access which almost every major airline in the world employs staff to assist in. But which off course, DJ wouldn't need to under the new policy!

QF will arrange a hi-lift to unload a wheelchair pax if that is necessary (as will most airlines), and will always have staff there to meet pax with wheelchair requirements if it is requested (as will most airlines). Have organised to have these things done many times.

Yes, it looks like and smells and quacks like DJ cost-cutting. Sorry guys.

EDIT: I'm not sure that the 'safety' factor is a particularly strong argument. There are numerous precedents in all modes of public and/or mass transportation for accommodating disabled passengers who may or may not be able to evacuate themselves in an emergency and would have to avail themselves of assistance from other passengers. That tends to be an accepted risk.

Last edited by DutchRoll; 30th May 2006 at 09:30.
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Old 30th May 2006, 09:05
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A contentious issue, and one that is no doubt going to cause uproar from different sections of society.

The only opinion I can really give with conviction is that I agree with the concept that pax who are unable to assist themselves in the event of an emergency should travel with a carer. As the person in charge of the cabin (obviously under the direction of the flight crew) I have had to offload pax a few times who were clearly, 100% unable to help themselves in an airport terminal - let alone an evacuation from a burning aircraft. Its distressing for all involved - not least of all the crew - try telling someone who suffers from a disability (one that renders them unable to help themselves in an evac) that due to the fact they are unable to help themselves in an emergency, you are unable to transport them to their family/friend/loved one etc. Not nice. The unfortunate thing is that it could be something as little as someone who is unable to undo their own seatbelt due to an accident or condition with their fingers.

From a crew point of view, this should not be construed as any form of discrimination - at the end of the day, in a real emergency the crew may well not survive impact and the pax may have to fend for themselves - THATS the reality.

(oh and for the record, I have relatives who suffer from differing levels and types of disabilities, and still I agree with this ruling).
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Old 30th May 2006, 09:26
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Dutchrole is correct.
It's ALL about cost cutting.
Must be expensive to pay for ground staff to assist those in need.
QF does so, as it should.
Having said that they are thin on the ground these days with often only one or two to assist a 744 that from the UK may have half a dozen +needing assisance.
godfrey has set a precedent that darth will be sure to follow.
Except of course for "client" airlines......
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Old 31st May 2006, 00:44
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Four or Five years ago there was bleating from some at the 'rules' relating to the carriage of infants, then recently there was afront and indiganation by others at males being seated beside unaccompanied minors, now we have this 'situation'.

Everybody has to have their 'rights' and of course to hell with everybody elses rights at the same time.

Anybody else tired of the reverse discrimination even suffered by those of us that are in that minority group of , white, male, married and hetrosexual.

The Coaster.
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Old 31st May 2006, 00:58
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Originally Posted by Sunshine Coaster
Four or Five years ago there was bleating from some at the 'rules' relating to the carriage of infants, then recently there was afront and indiganation by others at males being seated beside unaccompanied minors, now we have this 'situation'.
Everybody has to have their 'rights' and of course to hell with everybody elses rights at the same time.
Anybody else tired of the reverse discrimination even suffered by those of us that are in that minority group of , white, male, married and hetrosexual.
The Coaster.
Sorry, I'm confused. Exactly what is it that you're arguing there?
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Old 31st May 2006, 01:06
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This is nothing but blatant cost-cutting and the public knows it.

Yes - Brett Godfrey (the CPA "bean-counter" pin-up boy) didnt know which way to turn when he was interviewed yesterday on talk-back radio and was confronted by the head of an organisation for handicapped people.

Brett suddenly became timid, back-tracked a million miles and sounded like every bit of the accountant he is.
The way Godfrey started it sounded like being handicapped was a lifestyle choice!!

I can see it at the meetings at bean-counter central now :

" Why was our aircraft late out of Melbourne Smithers"
" Its these bloody handicapped people Mr Godfrey causing delays and requiring extra man power Sir!"
" What - extra handling and staff required! We cant have this....ban the buggers or make it as politically correct as possible to make it difficult for them to fly with us....they represent less on 0.1% of pax anyhow....the nerve of these people!!! "

Things must be tough if VB is picking on the handicapped.

And by the way - how are these guys going to handle international flights to the USA.
Last week one B744 required 18 wheelchairs and Qantas mobilised its staff to take each and everyone through customs!!
I know because my mother was one of those and was extremely complimentary about how she was handled and those less mobile organised through customs.

I think the record (non paralympic) was 37 wheelchair requests off a Mumbai flight!!!

Say what you will but Godfrey and his "team" has just blown a few million $ worth of advertising.

Besides, has anyone been to a hospital lately and seen what nurses, nuses aids and porters have to do on a regular basis?
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Old 31st May 2006, 02:24
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Originally Posted by TIMMEEEE
Besides, has anyone been to a hospital lately and seen what nurses, nuses aids and porters have to do on a regular basis?
Would you agree that these people TIMMEEEE mentions are trained for the job?

Should scheduled airlines employ guards to accompany prisoners on a flight?

If a child of a certain age is required to travel it was a requirement that a carer of some description travel with the child at the parents'/guardians' expense. I'm not talking about Unaccompanied Minors.

No airline is saying that disabled passengers/prisoners/children of a certain age cannot travel... they are just saying that if a passenger needs any assistance during/embarking/disembarking a flight a carer/guardian is needed.

This is mainly to do with OH&S and litigation. Discrimination does NOT come into it at all.

I cannot recall supermarkets providing staff to assist a disabled person to do their shopping. In the days prior to supermarkets (my days) you could count on assistance, but not now. This is not a flippant comment but a fact of life - today.
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Old 31st May 2006, 03:23
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No airline is saying that.........children of a certain age cannot travel
Try sending an unaccompanied minor on Jetstar.
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