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Requesting Special Assistance - Your Feedback Requested

Requesting Special Assistance - Your Feedback Requested

Old Oct 28, 2022, 11:44 am
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
I can see why that'd be an issue for particular types of mobility passengers. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I wonder how much is airport controlled like you said, and how much influence the carrier would have. I'll have to dig into it.
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There are a few airlines that choose to use their own staff to provide assistance services but in general it appears to be contracted out to the airport's preferred service provider. It would be difficult for any airline to provide staff and equipment at all airports, especially expensive equipment like Ambulifts which require a staff of 2/3.

Unfortunately not all airports have Ambulifts or they are not always available when needed which can lead to severe problems for disabled passengers who are faced with with unacceptable alternatives:
  • Navigate stairs themselves with assistance
  • Being carried up/down stairs which is uncomfortable, frightening and possible dnagerous
  • Using a stair climbing wheelchair, my wife had such a bad experience using one at Bournemouth being painfully jolted on every step that she now refuses to use one.
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Old Oct 28, 2022, 4:15 pm
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
Transferring meals when a disruption occurs (i.e. a change on the day where e.g. the aircraft was changed, flight was cancelled, and you were put on a replacement flight etc.) is an issue were aware of and looking at currently. The logistics of it can make it tricky especially if its a short delay/amount of time to get the meal onto the new aircraft but were still looking into it.

Meal labelling has come up a lot in the comments here so I'm going to group them - our meals are provided by a third-party but given it's such an issue, I'll investigate what is there now and if it's possible to add better labelling if that's an issue within our airline. To be honest, I don't know at the moment what is on our meals I havent gone to that level of detail yet but that will be todays line of investigation.

If you all had a wish list for labelling could you tell me exactly what you'd want to see? I'm assuming the typical carbo/protein/fat etc. breakdown won't suffice, but allergens isn't an area I'm overly familiar with so if I'm asking for better labelling, what does that translate to exactly? Do you have an example where the labelling provided told you everything you needed to know, and an example where they mightve tried but failed?

I'll look into the snacks with the meals. They could well be from different suppliers so I'll have to check that also. But again, both variety and labelling seem to be the main issues so will take that away.

Thank you all for the above comments both in this reply and the other replies. This is extremely valuable feedback and is much appreciated.
I know things are typically tight with space, but an idea might be to carry one or two extra of the various meals, for situations where someone is added to the flight last minute.

As far as labeling, I'd like a list of ingredients, a list of allergens, and a statement about if it is made in a facility that also manufactures items with the various allergens. For example, a local to me ice cream company manufactures something like 100 different ice cream flavors. I have a nut allergy, so I was concerned that I couldn't eat most, if any of their ice cream, because a lot of it contains nuts, and many times, manufacturing lines are cleaned between batches, but you don't know if someone is going a great job or not. Said ice cream company is very allergy conscious, and plans their production runs around allergen usage. They start with the ice creams that don't have common allergens, other than milk, and add ingredients as their production schedule progresses. Once they manufacture the ice creams with allergens, they shut down that production line and do a deep clean of it. I think they said something like it is out of service for 30 hours, being disassembled and cleaned top to bottom, before they use it again. As such, I can be confident that a nut-free product from them really is nut-free. They don't label any of the ice creams that don't have nuts as being made where they manufacture items with nuts, because of their cleaning processes.
Originally Posted by Jerry5566
Hi Kipper. For additional seating you'd have to purchase that but it is possible. I'm adding something to the new flow for it also.
I would be open to that, if it wasn't at full fare.
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Old Oct 29, 2022, 4:14 pm
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
I bolded some of your text that initially sounds unbelievable but I wonder if it's liability-related. For example, if you fell while being assisted by e.g. a cabin crew member would that leave the airline open to legal action. I wonder is that why they're hesitant if that's what you've experienced.
It may be as you suggest, though I don't know how helping me not fall would incur more liability than wheeling a wheelchair around. It may also be that personnel are not trained on what to do when someone can't negotiate that gap replete with obstacles, on entering the plane. It is hard to say. I would think an airline's legal department could give a useful opinion on whether there is more liability in not helping, when a passenger has put the airline on notice of a visual disability, or in helping.

Thank you again for all you are doing.
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Old Nov 4, 2022, 12:54 pm
  #49  
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Originally Posted by kipper
I know things are typically tight with space, but an idea might be to carry one or two extra of the various meals, for situations where someone is added to the flight last minute.

As far as labeling, I'd like a list of ingredients, a list of allergens, and a statement about if it is made in a facility that also manufactures items with the various allergens. For example, a local to me ice cream company manufactures something like 100 different ice cream flavors. I have a nut allergy, so I was concerned that I couldn't eat most, if any of their ice cream, because a lot of it contains nuts, and many times, manufacturing lines are cleaned between batches, but you don't know if someone is going a great job or not. Said ice cream company is very allergy conscious, and plans their production runs around allergen usage. They start with the ice creams that don't have common allergens, other than milk, and add ingredients as their production schedule progresses. Once they manufacture the ice creams with allergens, they shut down that production line and do a deep clean of it. I think they said something like it is out of service for 30 hours, being disassembled and cleaned top to bottom, before they use it again. As such, I can be confident that a nut-free product from them really is nut-free. They don't label any of the ice creams that don't have nuts as being made where they manufacture items with nuts, because of their cleaning processes.

I would be open to that, if it wasn't at full fare.
Hi Kipper

I've now seen the meals themselves and the menus we offer in the cabin. We clearly state ingredients and allergen information. It is also made obvious where particular meals e.g. were made in a factory that handles nuts, or that there may be traces of nuts in the food provided.
Definitely happy you all raised this as an issue and delighted we are currently providing the information that passengers need to comfortably complete a journey.

Also, to answer a comment further up on combination meals e.g. a meal that is lactose free and gluten free, while there is no SSR code or specific meal advertised for this, our special assistance department does handle these requests and will accommodate them wherever possible (which is almost always, and normally made in-house).
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Old Nov 4, 2022, 4:37 pm
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
Also, to answer a comment further up on combination meals e.g. a meal that is lactose free and gluten free, while there is no SSR code or specific meal advertised for this,[u] our special assistance department does handle these requests and will accommodate them wherever possible (which is almost always, and normally made in-house).
Now tell us what airline you work for! I've got travel to plan.
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 11:47 am
  #51  
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler
Now tell us what airline you work for! I've got travel to plan.
haha! I would imagine given the EU regulations, that the EU carriers would be compliant, but I would've expected non-EU carriers flying into the EU to have the same compliance on those particular flights at least, but I could be wrong. That tends to be the way for our carrier when we fly to the US, for example - we have to comply with DOT regulations on those particular flights. But I'm certainly not a lawyer and perhaps most of the flights in question are e.g. internal US flights.

Hopefully improvements are made there as it sounds like a pain.
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 12:05 pm
  #52  
 
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
haha! I would imagine given the EU regulations, that the EU carriers would be compliant, but I would've expected non-EU carriers flying into the EU to have the same compliance on those particular flights at least, but I could be wrong. That tends to be the way for our carrier when we fly to the US, for example - we have to comply with DOT regulations on those particular flights. But I'm certainly not a lawyer and perhaps most of the flights in question are e.g. internal US flights.

Hopefully improvements are made there as it sounds like a pain.
Let's just say transatlantic EI has been known to make MAJOR labeling mistakes...
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Old Mar 22, 2023, 5:09 am
  #53  
 
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Getting hold of a special assistance desk to make requests known to airlines in the first place is a difficult endeavor these days.
A big reason for me to maintain top tier status on a large airline is that it conveys timely access to high-level phone reps. Getting my service dog approved on AA takes all of one minute, and it's possible to speak to a human at the special assistance desk directly on the phone with no or minimal wait times. Most other airlines - not so much.
I see this is a staffing and cost issue, but it'd be nice to be able to convey one's needs to airlines with less effort than seems to be the norm today.
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Old Mar 22, 2023, 6:46 am
  #54  
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Originally Posted by bhomburg
Getting hold of a special assistance desk to make requests known to airlines in the first place is a difficult endeavor these days.
A big reason for me to maintain top tier status on a large airline is that it conveys timely access to high-level phone reps. Getting my service dog approved on AA takes all of one minute, and it's possible to speak to a human at the special assistance desk directly on the phone with no or minimal wait times. Most other airlines - not so much.
I see this is a staffing and cost issue, but it'd be nice to be able to convey one's needs to airlines with less effort than seems to be the norm today.
Hello

Are they able to approve within 1 minute because you are a repeat traveller and they save your documents/proof of service dog qualifications etc?

Do you fly to Europe?

Documents need to be submitted and verified so often that takes longer than a minute, especially on the submission side and while the verification is quick, it could be within a queue for some time.

However if AA save your documents for example then perhaps that helps speed things up. What exactly do they do within that 1 minute?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 26, 2023, 6:28 am
  #55  
 
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Originally Posted by Jerry5566
However if AA save your documents for example then perhaps that helps speed things up. What exactly do they do within that 1 minute?Thanks!
AA saves the service animal documentation, yes. That's SOP for all service dogs since 2021, too.
In that one minute, I call the EXP desk and tell them that I`ll be traveling with a service dog on upcoming trip with PNR XXX. I get a well-versed agent on the line with minimal automated crap and minimal hold times.
Then the EXP agent transfers me over to the special assistance desk (something that is not done for regular travelers who have to send things online or have a hard time reaching anyone on the phone using the 800-237-7976 line) who adds the dog after checking the docs on file and asking me some basic questions (dog weight). Normally, the SVAN ID from AA is valid for just one year. Because I have vaccination certs that are valid three years and that's documented in the docs AA has on file (which basically consist of her scanned pet passport, her training certificate and my doctors' note), the agent just looks it up and then adds the dog without me having to do anything else or resubmit any docs. Much of this convenience is possible because I can speak to a human who has decision-making authority directly. And that's sadly something severely lacking in airline customer service these days.

Yes, I travel from and to Europe. I live there.
Pro tip: If you plan on frequently going back and forth between Europe and the US with a service dog, go to a vet in Europe and get an EU pet passport for your dog. This will greatly simplify future travel - no more USDA vet visits every time you travel, rabies shots are vaild for up to five years depending on the vaccine used and AA as well as the EU authorities accept this if properly documented in the pet passport.

edit: This should be all past tense as doggie passed away of old age (at 18 years and 8 months, so I got very lucky) recently and I haven't decided about a successor yet. I`ll have my first transatlantic flight without her next month. Life surely is different now without her. She's missing.
See for how comfortable dogs can fly on AA:

DeafFlyer likes this.

Last edited by bhomburg; Mar 26, 2023 at 6:52 am
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Old Mar 26, 2023, 6:55 am
  #56  
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Originally Posted by bhomburg
AA saves the service animal documentation, yes. That's SOP for all service dogs since 2021, too.
In that one minute, I call the EXP desk and tell them that I`ll be traveling with a service dog on upcoming trip with PNR XXX. I get a well-versed agent on the line with minimal automated crap and minimal hold times.
Then the EXP agent transfers me over to the special assistance desk (something that is not done for regular travelers who have to send things online or have a hard time reaching anyone on the phone using the 800-237-7976 line) who adds the dog after checking the docs on file and asking me some basic questions (dog weight). Normally, the SVAN ID from AA is valid for just one year. Because I have vaccination certs that are valid three years and that's documented in the docs AA has on file (which basically consist of her scanned pet passport, her training certificate and my doctors' note), the agent just looks it up and then adds the dog without me having to do anything else or resubmit any docs. Much of this convenience is possible because I can speak to a human who has decision-making authority directly. And that's sadly something severely lacking in airline customer service these days.

Yes, I travel from and to Europe. I live there.
Pro tip: If you plan on frequently going back and forth between Europe and the US with a service dog, go to a vet in Europe and get an EU pet passport for your dog. This will greatly simplify future travel - no more USDA vet visits every time you travel, rabies shots are vaild for up to five years depending on the vaccine used and AA as well as the EU authorities accept this if properly documented in the pet passport.

edit: This should be all past tense as doggie passed away of old age (at 18 years and 8 months, so I got very lucky) recently and I haven't decided about a successor yet. I`ll have my first transatlantic flight without her next month. Life surely is different now without her. She's missing.
See for how comfortable dogs can fly on AA:


Condolences on your pup and appreciate the detail above. Nice to hear a different perspective on how things are processed.
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Old May 5, 2023, 5:03 pm
  #57  
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How about larger toilets, and a few more! Disabled or no, this would be a plus.
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Old May 6, 2023, 7:50 am
  #58  
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Originally Posted by ranles
How about larger toilets, and a few more! Disabled or no, this would be a plus.
Some airlines actually have two adjacent lavs where the wall in between them can be folded away, making them wheelchair accessible. I believe Airbus pioneered this with their Space Flex design and I think Spirit might have it.

-J.
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Old May 6, 2023, 6:36 pm
  #59  
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Originally Posted by ranles
How about larger toilets, and a few more! Disabled or no, this would be a plus.
Since 1990, all wide-bodied, twin-aisle aircraft registered and the US are required by the DOT to have wheelchair accessible lavatories. As shown by the chart below, there are some narrow-bodied US registered aircraft that have lavs that are accessible by persons with reduced mobility.



There is a proposed rule that would require all new single-aisle aircraft seating 125 or more passengers to have wheelchair accessible lavs. Unfortunately, that rule will apply only to aircarft ordered 18 years or delivered 20 years after its adoption.
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Old May 8, 2023, 5:14 pm
  #60  
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Not sure I can hold it that long. LOL
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