For people with disabilities, air travel can be inconvenient and difficult at best — and sometimes impossible.
All Wheels Up — a disability advocacy group that works directly with the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress, and other air travel organizations — is working to make air travel a little easier for those with disabilities by giving away CARES harnesses and ADAPTS slings through its new Fly Safe Today program.
The Problem With Planes
“Keys to a safe flight for a person with a disability are a protected transfer and a secure positioning,” said Michele Erwin, founder and president of All Wheels Up.
That’s not as easy as you may think. One of the main challenges is that airplanes don’t have a dedicated wheelchair spot. That means passengers who use wheelchairs must transfer from their personal wheelchairs to an aisle chair and then transfer again to their plane seat, Erwin explains.
Secondly, she explains, the FAA’s 1977 evacuation plan for airplanes is outdated and doesn’t account for evacuating someone who is physically disabled.
“At AWU, we don’t believe someone who is disabled should need to pay for their own device that allows a safe evacuation,” Erwin told TravelAwaits.
To that end, All Wheels Up is giving away ADAPTS slings, which are evacuation devices used to help passengers with mobility impairments — whose personal wheelchairs are stored in the cargo hold — safely exit the plane in case of an emergency. Incidentally, the devices also may be used to help these passengers safely transfer from their wheelchairs to their plane seats.
All Wheels Up is also giving away CARES harnesses, where are supplemental double-shoulder straps. When used along with the airplane seat’s lap belt, the harnesses can help better secure and position people with physical disabilities in their airplane seats.
“Fly Safe Today is a pilot program we launched