Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including the new record for world’s most expensive wheelchair, a metro rail crash (with a wheelchair user) in Washington, D.C., new early boarding benefits for active duty military service members traveling by air and more.
Accessible travel news from around the web:
- Virgin Australia offers preboarding to military, faces criticism — In the USA, many airlines offer early boarding to active duty military as a sign of thanks and respect. Virgin Australia recently decided to do the same, but some members of the Australian military were not having it. A man named Scott wrote to the airline on Twitter, saying, “I would be embarrassed to board before, say, someone in a wheelchair or with kids, or anyone else who might need help. It’s a publicity stunt.” While I agree that people with disabilities should always board before everyone else (it’s the law in the USA), I don’t see a problem with an airline extending a perk to the military. What do you think? I’m particularly curious how veterans of the armed forces feel about it? Let me know in the comments below.
- The World’s Most Expensive Wheelchair? — Stephen Hawking’s 1988 power wheelchair sold at auction last week for approximately $385,000 USD. Projected to sell for around $20,000 by the Christie’s auction house, the iconic red wheelchair beat all expectations. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neuron Disease Association.
- Wheelchair user takes on London’s Luton Airport — Justin Levene, a wheelchair user and wheelchair racer, is suing London’s Luton Airport for failing to make a self-propelling wheelchair available to him after his personal wheelchair was lost by an airline. Read the story and let me know what you think. Does his lawsuit have merit? Is it good to separate responsibility between airlines and airports? An airline lost his wheelchair – why shouldn’t they be responsible for taking care of his needs after? We’ll discuss this more in a forthcoming blog post.
- Thanks to a grant, new wheelchair taxis come to Missouri — Taxi Terry’s, a taxi cab company in Columbia, Missouri, has just used a public grant to purchase two ADA wheelchair taxi vans with ramps. The company’s new wheelchair service will be available around the clock, including on nights and weekends. Other cab companies in the area hope to apply for a similar grant to expand their services to wheelchair users.
- Power wheelchair user hit by Washington, D.C. Metro Train — A woman using a wheelchair rolled off the Friendship Heights Metro Station platform and onto the tracks, where she was hit by a Red Line train just before noon on November 4th. Police reviewed footage from the station and determined that no foul play was involved. The woman was rescued by the Washington, D.C. Fire Department and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
- Travelogue of the week: Bob Taylor goes to Normandy — I enjoy a good story, and a man named Bob Taylor produced a great one last month. Bob has ALS and uses a wheelchair, and recently took a trip with a group of his friends to the World War II memorials in Normandy, France. Read about his journey and the lessons he learned at the link – it won’t disappoint.
Check back every couple of weeks for the latest roundup of accessible travel news. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know!
Feature image courtesy Caroline Purser/Getty Images.