Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including some particularly juicy stories — two women are caught on camera stealing a man’s mobility scooter, Lyft settles a disability complaint with a hefty payout, an airline executive ignores quarantine restrictions, a disabled man is forced to live in an airport for 110 days and more.
ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL NEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
- Lyft Settles Disability Discrimination Case with Justice Department — Rideshare company Lyft has reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, stemming from complaints filed by disabled people who were refused assistance in loading manual wheelchairs and other mobility equipment. As part of the settlement, Lyft will be required to pay damages between $4,000 and $30,000 to four complainants, as well as a civil penalty of $40,000. Lyft must also make it clear that drivers must assist people with wheelchairs, scooters, walkers and other assistive devices that can fit into the back of the vehicle. In the future, Lyft will be obliged to refund charges and give $10 credits to passengers who submit complaints about violations of the new policy.
- Disabled Man Stranded at Airport for 110 Days — Roman Trofimov, a resident of Estonia, was denied entry to the Philippines after arriving on a flight from Bangkok on March 20. There were no repatriation flights available, and he was forced to remain in the airport’s transit area. In speaking about the experience, he said, “I am a person with disability, my health is getting worse because of malnutrition, lack of sun, and fresh air.” Earlier this week, after 100 days in the Manila Airport, he managed to get a return flight to Tallinn, Estonia.
- American Airlines Executive Brags About Violating UK Quarantine — In a post on LinkedIn, an American Airlines sales executive wrote about a 24-hour trip he took to London to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Heathrow Airport. He wrote about multiple social interactions including a “business dinner” and promised to “write in a post on Monday as to why Americans don’t necessarily need to spend 14 days in quarantine on arrival in the UK.” Given that I have cancelled a trip to London due to the coronavirus and to protect my health and that of others, I return to a refrain that I seem to use all too often, “Not a good look, American.”
- Police Identify 2 Women Who Stole 85-year-old Man’s Scooter — Grand Theft Mobility Scooter? Two women stole an 85-year-old man’s scooter after he parked it at a Walmart while using the store’s provided scooter with a shopping basket. Police in Palm Bay, Florida reviewed video footage of the crime and identified two women who had loaded the man’s scooter into the back of their pickup truck. The man has since been reunited with his mobility device and police have said that the thieves’ identities and a list of charges would be announced later.
- Opinion: Disney disability ruling overstates impact on guests — In a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, wheelchair user Kevin Mintz of Bethesda, Maryland criticized a recent ruling by federal court judge Anne C. Conway. In a case brought by the mother of an autistic son, Conway ruled that Disney should not be required to provide priority line access to guests with severe autism. In his letter, Mintz said that the judge missed the mark and “endorses a misleading claim” that providing expedited access to the most significantly disabled guests “would hugely increase wait times for non-disabled guests.” Wheelchair Travel agrees, and believes that the complainant’s requested accommodation was reasonable.
- Mask Exemptions for Disabled People on Airplanes — This article from Runway Girl Network provides a great look at airline mask policies and how those with legitimate disabilities that make wearing a mask dangerous or impossible can request an exemption.
Featured image courtesy Lyft.