Blind World Magazine

Ryanair lifts limits on the blind.

November 19, 2005.

Ryanair is changing its policy on visually impaired passengers, just one month after attracting criticism for ejecting a group of partially sighted passengers from one of its planes.

Last month, a disability organisation called for people to boycott the airline after a group of nine blind and partially sighted people were taken off a flight. The group, from Norwich, boarded the Stanstead plane and were destined for Italy before being asked to disembark as the flight. Ryanair said it could only accommodate four disable people.

Ryanair announced that following consultation with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, it will be changing its policy on the number of visually impaired people on board a flight.

The company said the change is part of an ongoing commitment to enhance customer service.

The proposals have been put to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and, subject to approval, visually impaired passengers who are travelling with a sighted companion on a one-to-one basis will no longer need to pre-advise Ryanair and will not be included in the aircraft safety limit of four.

However, visually impaired passengers flying alone will remain part of the safety limit quota of four.

The airline's head of customer services, Caroline Green, said: "This is a common-sense change which follows an incident where a group of vision impaired passengers were not able to travel because the safety limit for reduced mobility passengers was exceeded.

"This policy change will increase quota for vision impaired customers able to travel with us as the aircraft restriction will not apply when a vision impaired passenger is travelling with a sighted companion on a one-to-one basis."

Des Kelly, chief executive of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, welcomed the announcement and said: "Ryanair are to be congratulated for taking the lead in improving what has been a problematic area for vision impaired passengers when flying.

"It is also a major step forward for the European aviation industry as a whole and I hope that other airlines will follow Ryanair's example."

If approved by the Irish Aviation Authority, visually impaired passengers travelling with a sighted companion, on a one-to-one basis, will no longer be required to pre-advise Ryanair.

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