The seat design converts a standard passenger seat into a safe and secure accommodation for wheelchair users.
Accessibility on airplanes is a crucial aspect of ensuring inclusivity and a safe environment for all passengers. Airlines have made significant strides in recent years to accommodate individuals with disabilities, making air travel more accessible and comfortable for everyone. Recently, people are thrilled over a new airplane seat concept that allows wheelchair users to stay in their own chair throughout a flight.
Air travel is often difficult for those with mobility issues so the announcement of the accessible airplane seat by a subsidiary of US airline Delta has been seen as a huge step in the right direction for potential customers, reports WXYZ.
Airlines still lose, damage or destroy 26 wheelchairs a day--same as when they were first required to start reporting. Breaking a chair is like breaking someone's legs. And for Engracia Figueroa, there were deadly consequences. https://t.co/FXgE3bsfK1— Joe Shapiro (@NPRJoeShapiro) November 9, 2021
Since wheelchairs are currently not allowed on planes, wheelchair users have to rely on airline employees to carry them to their designated seats and they also have to gate-check their wheelchairs when they board. As a result, their wheelchairs sometimes end up being damaged or unusable.
Delta Flight Products has now partnered with UK-based consortium Air4All on the seat, which converts a standard passenger seat to an accommodation for wheelchair restraint, according to a press release. The design is made in such a way that it enables airlines to retain the design of their cabin on every seat. But what's more important is that passengers will be offered comfort and safety with access to headrests, center console tray tables and cocktail tables that adjust to serve passengers with wheelchairs in place.
“An innovation like this in air travel provides those with reduced mobility a safe and comfortable way for them to travel and remain in their own power wheelchair,” said Chris Wood, Founder of Flying Disabled. “It has taken truly a collaborative effort to develop this seat and we believe this product provides an optimal solution for all parties.”
Cory Lee, who is an avid traveler and who uses a power wheelchair, told CNN that he was “unbelievably excited” about the new design. Having traveled to 43 countries, the blogger knows first-hand about the difficulties of air travel while being separated from his own wheelchair. “For decades, people with disabilities have been fighting for more accessible air travel, and this feels like a huge step (or a giant roll) toward real inclusivity,” Lee said.
Not only does he feel discomfort when being removed from his wheelchair he also has to deal with being lifted by staff into an aisle wheelchair, and then again onto an airplane seat. “During those transfers, I’ve nearly been dropped on several occasions,” he added.
Lee hopes that people also address the issue of making aircraft restrooms as a further step to improve inclusivity. “Currently, they are so small that it’s impossible for a caregiver and me to go in for me to use the restroom,” he said. “Currently, I have to severely limit my food and liquid intake in the days leading up to a flight, so that I won’t need to use a restroom onboard the plane.”
Nevertheless, he's glad that things are finally moving forward that “an airline has finally acknowledged that there needs to be a wheelchair spot on planes, and is trying to make it happen.” He is “immensely looking forward” to staying in his own wheelchair on a flight.
“On a daily basis, I receive messages from other wheelchair users saying that they want to travel, but they’re terrified that their wheelchair will get damaged, so they choose to just do road trips,” Lee said. “In 2023, they shouldn’t be saying that. Until air travel is inclusive for everyone, including wheelchair users, it isn’t inclusive at all."