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Air Canada promises improvement for passengers with disabilities

In a move to improve its services for passengers with disabilities, Air Canada (Air Canada Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:AC) has announced a series of comprehensive measures aimed at enhancing travel experience. This announcement comes in the wake of several high-profile incidents that highlighted the airline’s shortcomings in adequately accommodating passengers with disabilities, sparking public outcry and government scrutiny.

The Montreal-based airline’s new initiative, part of its Accessibility Plan 2023-26, is a response to increasing societal expectations and the growing demand from travelers with disabilities. This plan includes a series of immediate actions such as priority boarding, better storage and tracking of mobility aids, and extensive employee training, underscoring Air Canada’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and accessible travel environment.

The airline has acknowledged several high-profile incidents where it failed to adequately accommodate passengers with disabilities, prompting a public apology and internal changes​​. In response to these incidents, Air Canada has been summoned by the Canadian federal government to address their handling of passengers with disabilities. This includes discussions with Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez and Kamal Khera, the minister of diversity, inclusion, and persons with disabilities​​.

To improve the travel experience for customers with disabilities, Air Canada has announced a series of measures intended to reduce barriers and make travel more comfortable, simpler, and reliably consistent. These actions are part of accelerating Air Canada’s Accessibility Plan 2023-26, a three-year strategy released in June aimed at reducing or eliminating major sources of dissatisfaction and trip disruption for customers with disabilities​​.

The company’s President and CEO, Michael Rousseau, acknowledged the challenges faced by customers with disabilities and expressed a commitment to continuously improve their services. Measures announced include improvements in boarding and seating, better customer communications, new processes to prevent delays or damage to mobility devices, and enhanced training for employees. Significant investments in equipment such as lifts are also being made. Furthermore, the airline is working with its regional partners to ensure consistency in service delivery​​.

Some immediate measures being implemented include consistently boarding customers with disabilities first, storing mobility aids in the aircraft cabin when possible, and tracking them during transit. Enhanced training for approximately 10,000 airport employees is planned, focusing on interactions with customers with disabilities. Additionally, Air Canada has created a new senior position of Director, Customer Accessibility to manage the implementation of the company’s accessibility plan and act as a reference point for managing disability issues​​.

Air Canada’s efforts align with societal expectations and the increasing travel demand from people with disabilities. They aim to keep their accessibility capabilities in line with current technological advancements and societal needs. The airline’s Accessibility Plan 2023-26 is in support of the Government of Canada’s Accessible Canada Act, which targets a barrier-free Canada by 2040​​.

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