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European Air Rules to protect disabled passengers need an ‘Enforcer’

The new Regulation, which comes into effect on 26 July, means that for the first time, disabled passengers flying within Europe cannot be refused a flight because of their disability

The new Regulation, which comes into effect on 26 July, means that for the first time, disabled passengers flying within Europe cannot be refused a flight because of their disability.

But if a disabled person is discriminated against and wants redress, there is no enforcing body, such as the DRC or the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, to help support their claim.

An additional gap in the new Regulation means that some disabled people aren’t protected by the new rules – such as someone with HIV or Tourettes – because they are not classed as disabled. Individuals can face discrimination because of the stigma of their condition – for example, the DRC heard from a man with Tourettes who was refused a flight because of his impairment.

Responding to the new Regulation, the Chairman of the DRC, Sir Bert Massie said:

"These are important new rules. For the first time, disabled people have the right to fair treatment when flying.

“But some disabled travellers - for example people like former Culture Secretary Lord (Chris) Smith or Big Brother winner Pete Bennett - could still be treated unfairly without redress.

“The Regulation does not permit a UK body to help represent a disabled person in court. Without this, disabled travellers who’ve faced unfair treatment are unlikely to take the gruelling path to the courtroom.

“These gaps in the Regulation can only be safely plugged if the current exemption of air transport from the Disability Discrimination Act was lifted.

“The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights must be given the power to support individuals who have faced discrimination when travelling by air. Without this, the Regulation won’t bite.”

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