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Disability & public transport. Working for you? - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Disability & public transport. Working for you?

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
66 posts
Person on news recently couldn't board his flight ( Ireland to UK) because he had a couple of spanners needed to adjust his wheelchair! Shouldn't be happening these days.
It does ... all too frequently.

If you’re disabled, getting on a plane can be uncomfortable, unsafe and undignified. One wheelchair user told me the ordeal of being hoisted onto a plane in front of dozens of other passengers made him feel like a “circus act”.

Earlier this year Frank Gardner, the BBC security correspondent who was disabled after being shot six times by Al-Qaeda, was left alone on an empty plane at Heathrow for an hour and a half while staff scrabbled about looking for his wheelchair. His angry tweet about this went viral.

Disabled man forced to miss his flight over wheelchair repair kit.

Belfast airport security refused to let Steve Smithers carry spanners on flight to London.

Four of the UK's 30 biggest airports are falling short in providing access for disabled travellers, the Civil Aviation Authority has said.

Bottom of the list is Manchester, rated as "poor" for the second year running.

Birmingham and London Stansted airports are also in need of improvement, the CAA said.

London Gatwick airport, criticised by BBC journalist and wheelchair user Frank Gardner last year, is named as failing to meet expectations.

Mr Gardner has said airlines and airports take too long to help disabled passengers disembark from planes.

He has also criticised Heathrow for repeatedly losing his wheelchair and forcing him to stay on the plane for ages after everyone else has disembarked.

The CAA acknowledged that when things do go wrong, "the impact on individuals is significant", adding that there was still "more to do to improve journeys for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility".


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I'm surprised by the lack of responses to this worthwhile thread.

No one else with problems travelling with their caree on public transport ???



An article from the Guardian which dovetails into this thread ... extending beyond London :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... e-kindness


Travelling while disabled is hell. We need major change – and kindness.

If transport workers or members of the public see someone who looks like they need help, please treat them as individuals.


Every day brings news of novel, cruel and unusual indignities inflicted on a human daring to travel while disabled.

In the latest demoralising example, Steve Smithers was prevented from flying for the crime of carrying spanners, in case he used them to “dismantle the plane” instead of adjusting his wheelchair. It would take a time-rich, engineering-genius-meets-world’s strongest man to do that, not someone paralysed from the chest down.


I am disabled because of MS, which causes restricted mobility and impaired vision, both of which are worsened by stress.

I dread travelling, even by bus. I can’t fully see to flag down the correct one, and, boy, do Glaswegian drivers hate it when I explain why I stopped the wrong one. See me trying to count the exact change (mandatory in Glasgow) with my restricted vision, while an impatient driver snorts. And despite my walking stick, passengers hog seats near entrances reserved for the likes of me, spreading across two seats until asked to move.

Train journeys are an ordeal.

When checking the departure platform, I am often gruffly directed to the information board, which is bit of a walk. Worse, is being met with silence after asking a question. Silence, because I then say: “You’re pointing, aren’t you?” If I can’t see, what good is that? Don’t absentmindedly direct me on to the wrong train, as happened once when I called the rail company helpline. Steps on trains and at stations can be high: try hoisting yourself up steps, let alone carrying heavy luggage or shopping (fellow travellers rarely help).

Elsewhere, prohibitive rules can be callously, inappropriately and rigidly applied – occasionally, new ones are invented on the spot. I once encountered a German tourist on a train, who nervously asked for my advice. She had booked extra assistance in advance because of walking difficulties and, bless her, honestly believed that help would arrive. The ticket collector reassured her but nobody appeared. When we saw him walk away, we tapped the window. He smiled and waved cheerio.

I then asked station staff for assistance and we both watched in shock as a man slowly, deliberately (and unnecessarily) rolled out a ramp. Disabled means “ramp”, you see, even if you are deaf. I politely asked him to find a porter. Testily, he kept on unravelling that damn ramp, explaining righteously: “Excuse me, but I am helping a poor disabled lady.” He’d had training and everything. Desperate, she raced off for her connecting train after, eventually, someone sensible helped her with luggage and directions, but not, I suspect her blood pressure.

It’s not the same in every country.

Travelling to Bilbao from Manchester airport with worse vision than I have now, but better mobility, I checked in and asked for help, but was abandoned and forced to fend for myself.

Landing in Spain, the contrast was so marked that I felt like royalty.

They collected my bag from the carousel and insisted on carrying it for me. They would, I suspect, happily have washed my feet had I asked. Later, at Barcelona airport, I was obligingly given the help I needed (directions, with added luggage carrying) but not patronised with a one size fits all ramp. Indeed, posters in Catalonia explain that helping disabled people benefits everyone; wheelchair ramps can be helpful to pram users, for example.

Major training and institutional change are required, but, mostly, kindness is needed.

This extends to obvious and sensible requirements such as wheelchair adjustment spanners on planes, as well as generous assistance for people with multiple issues, including “invisible” disabilities (including mental health problems).

Be kind and pleasant. Respect a passenger’s dignity; discreetly guide those who need such assistance to the lavatory (which will, of course, be clean and supplied with lavatory paper – oh, my innocent soul…). Don’t assume disabled equals ramp: if passengers ask for help with luggage, or directions to trains and planes, do it promptly and willingly, responding to individual needs.

Fellow passengers: look up from your phone and offer help. And companies, I am not asking for a golden carriage pulled by miniature Shetland ponies dyed green to match to my eyes. All I really need is a porter.


An article which needs no further comment from me.
Perhaps my post's title is limiting responders to Londoners, there being no problems elsewhere. More likely, we are all just resigned to the disabled not being properly accommodated all too frequently.

I needed to make a couple of London Tube journeys in the last few weeks. Apparently the exit from the Brixton station is not step free due to planned engineering work. Passengers are told to use a different station. Happens all the time I suspect. And only a few tube stations are regularly step free.
Perhaps a change in the original heading ?
Travelling With Your Caree On Public Transport ( Particularly London ) : Any Problems Encountered ?


Might entice a few more in ?

Thread headings are like shop windows ....
Thanks Chris. Any better now? We shall see....
At least one thread that says what's on the label is also in the tin ?

For more than decade or more , threads such as this one tend to die a death ... through the apathy of readers.

In CarerLand , all inmates are in the same ... mire.
Still more repeated problems :
Paralympian left stranded on Stansted flight after staff delay.

Anne Wafula Strike had to wait on board her disembarked flight for 45 minutes despite having booked assistance.
Paralympian and disability rights campaigner Anne Wafula Strike was left stranded at Stansted airport on her return from the world para athletics European championships in Berlin after airport staff failed to meet her flight to take her off the plane.

She said that being abandoned on the plane left her “profoundly distressed”.

“As a wheelchair user, it’s very frustrating and caused me great inconvenience to be forgotten and stuck on a plane,” she stated.

“It also meant that other passengers were held up too. Not good at all. As a disability rights campaigner, I feel that this is an area that needs serious attention. It is happening to far too many disabled travellers.”

Wafula Strike was left on board Ryanair flight 146 from Berlin to Stansted after her journey home to Harlow following the championships in Berlin.
Just a headline ... but worthy of inclusion even if disabled travellers are now excluded ?

Disabled passenger's anger as buffet set up in train wheelchair space.

Hollie Brooks says she had to sit among boxes and trolleys on Greater Anglia service.


A thread worthy of our interest ... NOT your apathy !
Chris From The Gulag wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:39 am
Shame it's not a fountain of Adnams Broadside ?

Yep ... young mothers with pushchairs ... a bane of my caring days ... travelling in convoys blocking the pavement for faster travelling wheelchairs ... same for buses ... even saw an overflowing guard's van with 'em onboard back in ... 1999 ?

Still , mustn't be prejudist ... must we , gentlemen ... and pushers of wheelchairs known as carers ?
Buggy wars I call em'.

I use a manual, usually on my own, on London buses. My experience is that it is slowly improving here. A fair bit better than just a few years ago. And far better than 18 years ago (when the buses with ramps were just coming in). However, it's not that unusual to still be left behind at the bus stop due to unwilling buggy users. Or waste loads of time getting people to move out of your way.

Even when people do want to move, it can hard to direct them. They often move out of one bad spot and right into an even worse one. E.g as you enter the bus, they're standing right in the middle of the wheelchair parking spot, and you say ''Excuse me'', and they'll simply move to the back of the w/ch space right by the back board. What the?!

It's hard not to look at them with a mixture of annoyance and awe at their almost unnerving ability to compound issues.

I often feel like I should take a course in choreography, or perhaps just get a pair of those bats they use to move planes around the runway?
66 posts