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Friday 30 March 2018

Airline pilloried for its treatment of handicapped woman

Yet another airline is attracting adverse publicity around the world because it refused to bend its rules just a little. 

This time it is British Airways that is facing a social media backlash after it refused to change the name on a ticket so that a severely disabled woman could travel to Canada to see her best friend.

Rachael Monk, who suffers from complex cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and must be attended by two personal assistants 24 hours a day, bought three tickets last July for the flights to Canada next month, Travel Mole newsletter reported.

When one of her PAs had to resign in February, due to her own ill-health, Monk asked British Airways to change the name on the ticket to that of a new PA, who had agreed to travel with her.

BA, remarkably given the circumstances but within its own rules, refused to make the change, meaning that Monk, 35, had to buy another ticket for £630.

That stupidity and intransigence has seen BA described as "disgusting" and its behaviour as "disgraceful".

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has suggested Monk could take a test case to court on the grounds that BA has not made "a reasonable adjustment" for her as a disabled person under the terms of the Equality Act 2010.

EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: "This situation is no doubt familiar to countless people living with a disability. Access to transport is a key plank of independent living for 13 million disabled people living in the UK.

"Whether or not non-transferable tickets, and the need to pay for PA tickets, in a circumstance such as this constitute unlawful discrimination or grounds for a reasonable adjustment should be tested in court.

"For disabled people to travel the distance of others, we need big business to ask themselves if they could be doing more to play their part."

All in all, a terrible look for BA - which could have handled this so much better.

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