Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) - Response to Consultation on Aviation Consumer Policy Reform

MACS response to Aviation Consumer Policy Reform

Question 1

No response

Question 2

No response

Question 3

No response

Question 4

Should ADR be mandatory for all airlines flying to and from the UK? Please explain the reasons for your answer.

Yes we believe it should be mandatory. Disabled passengers frequently feel it necessary to complain about the service they have received by an airline, and simplifying the complaints system into one system can take out many of the worrying and confusing aspects of ‘who shall I complain to’.

Question 5

Should all airlines flying to and from the UK be required to register with the ADR provider, or should parent organisations be able to register on behalf of all businesses within their parent group? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options?

No response

Question 6

How successful are the current compliance and enforcement mechanisms for the voluntary ADR schemes, and what alternative enforcement mechanisms should be in place to ensure compliance with any determinations made by an ADR body?

Complaints frequently refer to the lack of, or unsuitable passenger assistance and to damage to mobility aids such as wheelchairs. In many cases apologies and or compensation are forthcoming, but by making compliance compulsory disabled people may feel more confident in travelling by air.This compliance would also assure that compensation for mobility aides such as wheelchairs, covers the full cost of repair or replacement. Many compensation policies fall short in this area. Strengthening the resolution mechanism via ADR would give disabled travellers more confidence and reduce the stress and anxiety that they can encounter when seeking compensation to cover full costs for repair or replacement of expensive mobility equipment that they rely on for their independence and mobility.

Question 7

What mechanisms could be put in place to ensure compliance with mandatory ADR for non-UK registered airlines?

It could be made as a condition of using a British airport.

Question 8

Are there any other alternatives to mandatory ADR? What incentives could be used to encourage more airlines to voluntarily utilise ADR?

No response

Question 9

Do you have any further evidence on the likely impact of mandatory ADR on the number of ADR cases brought forward by consumers?


Question 10

What, if any, considerations should be had in relation to whether ADR should be mandatory for airports in relation to complaints around services for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility?

Disabled travellers have significant concerns about travelling, over and above a person who is not disabled, so we strongly suggest that ADR should be mandatory in this area of complaints. The CAA have made enormous strides to improve the services available to disabled travellers by their ranking of airports accessibility. This move would further enhance the provisions.

Question 11

What incentives could be used to encourage more airports to voluntarily use ADR?

It could be included in the determination of a ranking in the annual CAA Airport Accessibility report.

Question 12

Should ADR be completely free for consumers or would a ‘nominal fee’ in the event of an unsuccessful claim across ADR be advantageous to deterring frivolous claims?

Disabled passengers normally find themselves in a position of having to complain either due to the level of assistance or service provided or due to damage to their mobility or medical equipment. A fee would disadvantage those who can experience sub optimal services. A fee may also be a barrier to lodging complaints and could be a consideration in deeming a complaint unsuccessful. This service should be provided completely free to customers and used as an indicator of improved customer experiences by driving down complaints lodged and upheld.

Question 13

Should the cost per ADR case for the airline be capped at a specific amount? If so, at what level? Should there be different cost levels for different types of case, and if so, how could those be determined?

Though compensation levels should cover the full costs to make good i.e. where medical or mobility equipment needs repaired or replaced example – the cost of a base model ergonomic, energy efficient manual wheelchair starts at £6,500.

Question 14

What are the advantages and disadvantages of CAA approved ADR entities as opposed to other options such as a single ombudsman? What benefits would there be to moving away from the current model?

The current model, providing that membership is compulsory for all British and non-British airlines is an established mechanism for complaint resolution, so we believe it should remain as it is. However, it is essential that the service offered from first point of contact to resolution is equal to the service an ombudsman would offer.

We have a general comment to make on section 3. Compensation for delays or cancellation.

All aspects of compensation where a traveller is disabled should ensure that when an individual is travelling with a paid carer or assistant additional fees to cover the carer or assistance time and salary should be compensated.

Question 23

What are the advantages and disadvantages of special declarations to anyone travelling with a wheelchair or mobility equipment?

A passenger who needs a wheelchair or mobility aid needs to have peace of mind that the replacement cost of their lifeline equipment will be fully covered so they are frequently forced into having to buy special declaration terms.

There is always the hope that by making a special declaration, that their equipment will be handled more carefully as a result of the declaration.

Question 24

What would be the impact of removing the need to pay a supplementary fee for wheelchairs and mobility equipment?

It is a recognised fact that the cost of living for a disabled person is higher than for someone without a disability, so any proposal to remove a charge for supplementary cover would be welcomed. Retaining this charge could also leave organisations open to claims of discriminatory practices i.e. disabled travellers being subject to more costs than non disabled travellers.

Question 25

What evidence would it be reasonable to expect a passenger to provide to demonstrate like-for-like replacement/repair of a wheelchair or mobility equipment for a special declaration?

Many disabled people have their wheelchair specially designed for them, by medical practitioners, to suit their specific needs. This specification could be copied into a document, with costings and the value of the equipment described within it. Alternatively a standard form could be designed by the CAA for passengers to complete in advance of their travel. This must include mechanisms to fast track claims and where appropriate, make payments direct to equipment providers to streamline the payment process.

Question 26

What, if any, steps could be taken, beyond special declarations, to provide sufficient compensation for wheelchairs and mobility equipment damaged during transit on a domestic UK flight?

It should not be necessary for an airline to put in place a special declaration, the equipment used by a disabled traveller should be treated with the utmost care and full compensation based on value without the need for a special declaration. Training and awareness for baggage/equipment handling staff is critical to minimising damage.

Question 27

Other than compensation for the damaged or lost wheelchair or mobility equipment, are there any additional provisions that would reduce the impact on an individual whose wheelchair or mobility equipment has been damaged in transit on a UK domestic flight?

Airlines could have available a technician who is conversant with wheelchairs etc who can attempt to make a temporary fix to a wheelchair. However many wheelchairs are unique to the user and a replacement other than like for like would be useless and could physically damage them. The main point in this discussion is that wheelchairs and other equipment should not be treated like baggage or ‘goods’ it is essential for the user.

There may also be a back up option of the Airlines having contracts with wheelchair and mobility equipment suppliers close to the airports.

Question 28

What else could be done to protect wheelchairs and mobility equipment during carriage? What would the impact on the individual and the airline be?

Ideally the wheelchair should remain with the passenger inside the cabin and be secured appropriately. This also gives the disabled travellers maximum independence and peace of mind.

A passenger who is reliant on a wheelchair to enter and move about the plane should be able to do this, but we are aware that this could be too costly to implement. In future the design of aircrafts should consider this and perhaps have space for a wheelchair to be anchored during the flight and the passenger to remain in their wheelchair with access to adjacent facilities.

Question 29

What other reforms can we consider, to encourage more support of passengers with accessibility needs when travelling by air?

Many airports and airlines have introduced reforms to support disabled travellers. These are frequently the airports ranked top in the CAA Airport Accessibility reports. Good practice from these should be shared. Further, minimal standards should be set for all airports to encourage disabled travellers to have the confidence to travel.

Airports should have consumer groups comprising of disabled travellers to assist airports in designing their services, procedures and airport layouts.

Question 30

Please provide an indication of how you think the policies set out in this consultation would affect people who share the following protected characteristics. When answering please consider the three objectives set out above.

Please indicate in each box whether you consider the proposed policy to affect the protected characteristic positively, negatively, no affect or don’t know.

  Tools for the regulator to protect consumers and ensure fair treatment Resolution for individual Consumers Compensation for delays and cancellations Accessibility
Age Positive Positive No affect Positive
Disability Positive Positive Positive (see above regarding additional costs for carers/assistants) Very positive
Gender Reassignment Positive Positive No affect No affect
Marriage or civil partnership Positive Positive No affect No affect
Pregnancy or maternity Positive Positive No affect No affect
Race Positive Positive No affect No affect
Religion or belief Positive Positive No affect No affect
Sex Positive Positive No affect No affect
Sexual orientation Positive Positive No affect No affect

Hilary Stubbs, MACS Vice Convener and Aviation Lead.

Published Date 19 May 2022 Type Topic