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Ruling Lets Disabled Off Hook For Cost of Extra Airline Seats

Source:  The Canadian Press – Thursday, January 10, 2008

Canadian airlines have a year to stop charging those with severe disabilities for extra seats they need after a landmark decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency on Thursday. The agency ruled that the country’s major air carriers must offer a single fare to those with disabilities, including the severely obese, who require two seats to accommodate them.

Also under the “one-person, one-fare” policy, they don’t have to pay extra for medical attendants that must be seated with them on flights. “The airlines failed to demonstrate to the agency that implementation of a one-person-one-fare policy will impose undue hardship on them,” the agency wrote in its news release.

“Canadians with disabilities are celebrating today,” Pat Danforth, chairperson of the council’s transportation committee, said in a news release. “We hope that this decision sends a strong message to all transportation carriers,” Neubauer agreed. “Access is the rule.”

Currently, persons with disabilities who travel by train, bus or ferry can bring an attendant with them at no extra cost – but to board a plane, they must pay extra for the attendant’s seat. “For mobility, I need somebody to assist me and with luggage, that kind of thing. These are services that are not provided by the transportation provider, so I would need that kind of assistance,” said Council of Canadians with Disabilities spokesman Ron Ross, who uses a wheelchair.

For further information, you may Send an e-mail to the Canadian Transportation Agency or telephone 1-888-222-2592. The Agency is online at Canadian Transportation Agency link. To keep up-to-date with their latest news releases and other information, use the subscription service available on their home page under “subscription”.