I think all travellers should be courteous to physically challenged people. I was injured in March while in Port Elizabeth and this required me to take an emergency flight back to Durban.
As I was unable to walk due to the severity of my injuries, staff had to transport me via a wheelchair through the airport and into and out of the plane.
I noticed how some travellers isolated themselves from people in “wheelchairs”. Some of them even sped past my wheelchair in a haste, without saying a simple sorry. Pam Taylor, the owner of Flamingo Tours: Disable Ventures, said people with physical challenges did not like to be stared at.
“There are many travellers who are known to stare at people with disabilities at the airport. Not only does it make the person awkward, it also makes them feel isolated. Many of them just want to be treated as normal people.
“Disable flyers do not want to be pitied, they want to feel included, whether it's at the boarding gates, in the plane or in a restaurant at the airport,” she said.
Taylor believes that all physically challenged travellers want is to be treated with respect, love and dignity.
“Airports can do so much more to include people with disabilities,” she said.
At present, physically challenged individuals are the first to board and the last to depart. They are thereafter transported through the airport until they are with their loved ones. However, Taylor believes much more could be done by management of restaurants and shops at the airport.
Some of the challenges included staff not being trained to handle physically challenged individuals, dining areas and aisle spaces in shops not wheelchair friendly.
“Most shops and restaurants are not mobile friendly. Shops could lose lots of business if people with disabilities are not able to move around within a store,” she said.
“If airport personnel are trained adequately, they can be more comfortable towards the physically challenged and their needs."