Developing ICT skills and networks of support.
Why can't children with a learning disability fly like anyone else?
Posted: 29th Jun 2011
Wow, reports last week of yet another family who have had to deal with the delights of trying to travel with British Airways (BA) with a daughter with Down’s Syndrome (DS)!
I can totally understand the frustrations Alice’s mum must have had when BA said she couldn’t travel with BA as she has DS. What has the world come to? I wonder who else they would say no to?
Alice was at the oldest age (12yrs) that you would actually need a BA Skyflyer Solo service for. The family could just have sent her off to Scotland - would BA really have turned the child away at the airport? I wonder whether BA’s issue was really just about not knowing how to liaise with Alice, if so then they should have just asked the family. Would her mum have planned to send her on her own if she wasn’t able to do it? She perhaps felt that she would use the Skyflyer Solo service as it was the first time she was flying on her own, It’s a frightening experience for an adult first time flyer, let alone a child!
I really was angry when I read this news story in the paper and it brought back the experience we had when we’d traveled to America with our then 6 year old (who also happens to have DS) and our then 2 year old. We explained the need for us to be seated together and preferably, for the other passengers benefits, to be without a row of people in front; our eldest likes to talk, play, eat and share with fellow passengers, this really doesn’t go down too well with people on a long haul flight!! It seems to be accepted for the first hour, then the interest dwindles and the frustrations start to show…… understandable………
BA said this seating request wasn’t possible as all relevant seats were already booked/taken and either we would have to be split up; our eldest on her own in an appropriate row, and the three of us in a different row elsewhere on the plane! So I said ‘Yes, so long as you can support her throughout the flight as we wouldn’t be able to get up and down, for all her needs for the 13 hr journey……we reminded them that we did also have another child of 2!
They went away to consider and funnily enough they came back with a suitable row for us all.
We were really trying to help BA with the needs of the other passengers and yet we had to challenge them to get this positive result for all.
Alice just wanting to go on a plane, I did it to Scotland when I was wee(!) Why do I feel that BA are creating issues and building barriers for people with disabled children to travel like everyone else? I would love to know what BA is doing to change their customer service to make it fair and appropriate for all. I would also love to know if anyone else has had issues when planning to travel with BA or any other airlines, please let me know…………