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Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 7:12 am

Virgin Blue refused to allow a blind women for a flight from BNE-MEL because she didn't have a mat for the dog to sit on.

http://www.ozflight.com.au/ Headline is Virgin Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

[Edited 2004-11-14 23:14:42]
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57AZ
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RE: Virgin Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:24 am

Don't know what the laws are in Austrailia concerning accomodation of service animals. Here in the US, that case would have landed the airline a significant fine and probably a high dollar lawsuit judgement on grounds of violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. I worked with a tourist railroad that was not considered a common carrier but we adhered to the act to the greatest extent possible, both for moral and legal reasons. Under the federal law, common carriers will accomodate certified service animals in the passenger compartment of a bus, train or aircraft. Persons with certified service animals cannot be refused service for any reason related to their physical disability or the animal, so long as the issue involves a public place or transport.

Our guidelines were very strict on what would prohibit transportation of an animal aboard a company train but if they were a certified service animal, they had to be permitted aboard. We did not require mats or other items other than a leash, nor can a carrier legally require that. Carriers can determine where the passenger and service animal should be placed for safety reasons, but that is the extent of their legal authority. Any additional requirements that might be construed as discriminatory invites the possibility of civil litigation.
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ZKSUJ
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:00 pm

I do not think that would be acceptable in NZ as well. A very very sad situation and I am sure it was very distressing for the blind lady.
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:02 pm

Try that in the US and that lovely lady would own herself an airplane . . . or at the least all the first class travel she could stand for the rest of her days.
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:03 pm

With these sort of things thats what the Human Rights Comminision are for.
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wgw2707
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Mon Nov 15, 2004 7:01 pm

I've long complained about Australian members criticizing US airlines-and since that isn't going to stop unfortunately I'm going to fire back.

This incident was an absolutely disgusting violation of human rights on the part of Virgin Blue. I have never heard of such a sick, brain-dead corporate policy from any airline. Service animals are service animals-they're essential to the people who use them. These seeing eye dogs are effectively the eyes of the people who use them...how would you like it if an airline told you you couldn't board the plane because you weren't wearing sunglasses, unless you put your eyes out? This is effectively the same thing.

While US airlines might not offer meals in business class on short flights like YYZ-ORD, and might not be able to pamper their passengers the way QF is able to due to the highly competitive environment, you certainly never hear of any incident of this sort occuring.

-WGW2707
 
ltbewr
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:07 am

Doesn't an airline have to provide a 'pad' there? I am quite sure any USA airline would have them available as service animals are frequently on flights. We even had a service horse fly - yes a minature horse - from Maine to LAX to appear on a talk show. Believe was on US Air. I also believe minature service pigs have flown here too (Yes, 'pigs can fly'). I bet the lady in question here has contacted her solicitor for some compensation.
 
yukimizake
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:30 am

How hard would it have been to find a pad for the dog. I hope they don't need to change a light bulb any time soon.
'Opfer müssen gebracht werden (Sacrifices must be made)' - Otto Lilienthal
 
Russophile
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 4:31 am

WGW2707, hate to make you have to get off that high horse, but this is not a policy of Virgin Blue. For if it was, it would be in direct contravention of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. What is was, was a complete breakdown in communication and misinformation on the part of the DJ staff.

But it is inexcusable that staff fobbed the couple off by using the "I'm too busy" line. Arrangements could have been easily made.

And the reason you don't hear of such situations in the US is because of multi-million dollar lawsuits in the early 1980s. And tied into ltbewr's comments -- such a lawsuit would not happen in this country, for two reasons: 1) we aren't, thankfully, as a litigious society as the US, and 2) any compensation awarded by any court would be minimal (civil compensation in such cases of over a couple thousand dollars is almost unheard of).

So yes, it might be unheard of for this to happen in the US, but it is equally unheard of here for a passenger (or group of passengers) to be offloaded for no other reason than wearing a turban or looking Muslim. And by the way WGW2707, most of the criticism directed at US-airlines by my fellow brethren is more often than not quite deserved, including an embarrassing situation I was put in by UA cabin and flight crew (for which I didn't take the litigious road).

Ltbewr, that pig story on US Airways, turned out not to be a 'guide' pig. It was alleged that the people taking this 150kg on a flight across the country, were doing so to return it to it's owners. I remember hearing something about it going berzerk in the FIRST class cabin with the person who this pig was supposed to be assisting, was unable to get it (or even keep it) under control. That story seemed more of a scam to me. The people returning the pig to it's owner was faced with 2 options: 1) pay for a 150kg pig to travel in the cargo hold (at great cost), or 2) claim it was a 'guide' pig and get it carried for free in the cabin, and if the airline should decline to carry it, they cry bloody murder.

Also, there is nothing in Australian law specifying that any transport provider needs to provide these mats. Not that I can find anyways.

Edit add: BTW WGW2707, you will find that QF also provide meals on short flights not only in Business Class, but also to the common folk in Economy Class. Just thought I would throw that in to get under your skin a tiny bit more Big grin

[Edited 2004-11-15 20:40:50]
 
lincoln
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 5:11 am

Don't know what the laws are in Austrailia concerning accommodation of service animals. Here in the US, that case would have landed the airline a significant fine and probably a high dollar lawsuit judgement on grounds of violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Just for the record, based on the case law I've read (I'm NOT a lawyer, not qualified to pretend to provide legal advice, etc.) the other ADA -- Airline Deregulation Act -- has far more to do with accommodation of disabled pax on commercial airline flights than the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There is legislation similar to ADA, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) that (IIRC) predates ADA and provides many of the protections to airline pax that ADA does to everyone else.

For example, from Ruta v. Delta Airlines:
"...but is barred by the terms of the ADA itself. [The ADA] does not apply to or encompass travel by aircraft. Title II of the ADA simply does not cover air travel, and Plaintiff's claim under that section for refusal to carry is, accordingly, [*402] not actionable..."

That doesn't make the act in the original post any less objectionable from a human rights/dignity standpoint...

Lincoln
[Yes, I am a geek- I listen to ORD ATC at my desk and read caselaw on Lexis/Nexis in my spare time when not tracing the history of GDSs]
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7e72004
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 5:13 am

That is sad...put a blanket down for the dog for pete's sake!! Service animals are trained very well and act better than some people!
The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
 
bennett123
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 5:48 am


I do not claim to be an expert.

However, on a customer service basis, surely a solution could have been found. Even if it meant finding a pile of carrier bags or a newspaper for the dog to lie on.

As a guide dog, the risk of it "playing up" is presumably low. Clearly the passenger can not fly without the dog.

This is not the kind of publicity that any airline needs.
 
Trolley Dolley
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 6:03 am

Firstly, the way the situation was handled by DJ was abismal, no doubt about that. It's inexcuseable.

Let's take a step back here. Reading the article, DJ did not say "you can't fly because you're blind", it said you "can't fly because you don't have the correct equipment for your disability". There is a difference. Airlines have to care for safety as well as health and hygene. A mat is required for health and hygene. A short 1 hour hop can turn into a 3 hour ordeal if the flight could not land at its destination and it had to divert. Not even the best trained guide dog could understand that. It might need to go to toilet- intentionally or otherwise.

They were correct in not boarding her for that particular flight, but they were totally incorrect in the way they handled the situation and should have found a way to help her. DJ's much self-promoted service failed awfully.
 
airbear
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 6:24 am

Being Virgin Blue, the real reason: The dog probably wasn't able to dance & do tricks for the pax like the FA's.
 
ua777222
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 6:28 am

I find this story to be quite harmful for the person involved. I have/still do train Guide Dogs and the law states that any public transportation (Taxi, Bus, Train, Rail, etc.) is REQUIRED to allow the dog and it's passenger on. They don't have to worry about dogs peeing or this or that b/c in order for the dog to become a certified guide dog it must be taken care of my a person such as myself for about a year and then it will be off to the main training facility's where it will be for about another 1/2-1 year.

Even when they get into the tranining area many are still bounced and then are returned to a suitable owner (sometimes if not most the person in which it came from). They have no right to judge a guide god saying that it will pee on the a/c, need food, bla bla bla etc. B/c when it is trained it is taken on public transportation so it knows what to do. I have flown many short routes with a guide dog and all I do is show my ID and the dog has the vest, they will place me in a bulkhead seat and the dog will lie at my feet until I need to go to the bathroom, get food, or just stand up.

I think it would be VERY RARE to see a dog on a flight more than 5-6hrs, if longer the crew will assist the passenger and the dog will be placed in the cargo conparment located under the a/c, as we all know. The guide dogs of America will meet their standards and in turn the airlines, public transportation, etc. should meet theirs. This means that the ground of the a/c should have been suitable for the dog and it's blind passenger. And they can't say that they haven't dealt with it before b/c blind dog's are a very common scene at an airport. Crews will have to take it out to go to the bathroom before the flight. Stories such as the one where a passenger needed it's dog to go to the bathroom so the pilot took the dog, with it's GUIDE DOG vest on, put some sunglasses on and headed into the main terminal, lets just say a few people got a laugh.

They were out of line in their call and the heads of the airline should really clarify for their crew members that blind dogs are allowed. Now again the pilot is in control and if he feels that a dog is dangerous for the flight he can and WILL order the passenger and their dog off the a/c.

Thanks again.

UA777222
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wgw2707
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:34 am

Edit add: BTW WGW2707, you will find that QF also provide meals on short flights not only in Business Class, but also to the common folk in Economy Class. Just thought I would throw that in to get under your skin a tiny bit more

It's nice benefitting from government favoritism and near-monopoly status for 84 years isn't it?

-WGW2707
 
DeskPilot
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:38 am

WGW2707 wrote :

"..It's nice benefitting from government favoritism and near-monopoly status for 84 years isn't it? .."

Yes, it is. You must be jealous that Qantas isn't going "belly-up" and filing for Chapter 11 protection like some US carriers have had to.
By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
 
L-188
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:42 am

However, on a customer service basis, surely a solution could have been found

No doubt, Branson can give up an airline blanket for this.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
Russophile
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:50 pm

It's nice benefitting from government favoritism and near-monopoly status for 84 years isn't it?

Considering that QANTAS didn't fly short-haul domestic flights, or any domestic flights for that matter, until the early 1990s merger with Australian Airlines (formerly TAA), and that domestic flights saw limited competition between TAA (govt) and Ansett (private), and to a lesser extent East-West, your quip really doesn't make a whole lot of sense?!?
 
bennett123
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:16 pm


L188

You know what they could have done.

Take a photo of the dog on the Virgin Blue blanket and sent it to the local papers with a cheesy story about Virgin going the extra mile for you.

Free publicity is always worth having. Just watch the man with the beard.
 
thadocta
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RE: Virgin Blue Grounds Blind Woman's Guide Dog

Thu Nov 18, 2004 2:58 am

Typical Vermin. Just goes to show that they are staffed by a pack of rank amateurs who do not have a clue.

Dave

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