An Exploratory Study of the Experiences of Wheelchair Users as Aircraft Passengers – Implications for Policy and Practice

Air travel has grown steadily in the region of 5–6% every year since 1970 meaning that in the United Kingdom (UK) alone, around 750,000 people use flying as a means of transport every day. Disability rates are also increasing in the UK, with over 13 million people having at least one. Air travel for the mobility impaired has been relatively unexplored, but with increasing rates of disability and passenger numbers, it is crucial to know what the most severely disabled people think of the current process. This study used qualitative interviews of a semi-structured nature with eight wheelchair-using participants who were invited to discuss their experiences of air travel as well as offering opinions. Key findings showed notable issues when wheelchair users interact with the aircraft. The manual handling, the equipment used, seating, communication and accessing the toilet on the aircraft led to physical pain and discomfort and in turn emotional distress. Recommendations include developing consistency, further disability training and a review of the equipment involved.


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  • Accession Number: 01642903
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 1 2017 10:08AM