In this day and age it's difficult to imagine how or why handicapped discrimination can occur with regard to using a travel scooter and traveling by air. However, last night my little family of four were DENIED ACCESS by Air France at LAX, simply because they didn't know what to do with our little travel scooter, or didn't like it. They did say if we would like to come back tomorrow to try again - they MIGHT change something!! Huh?

Our tickets were non-refundable and purchased in advance via DELTA. When I booked the tickets I discussed our special needs and told them of the scooter at that time well in advance...(said it was dry cell battery, small travel scooter, comes apart for storage, blah, blah, blah) ...they didn't ask for anything or specify needing anything different by way of information.

I am writing this to let you know to please be aware - this discrimination is illegal and a violation of France's treaty obligations to the United States if they interfere with the FAA's enforcement actions against Air France. And trust me, we will be seeking to place heads on sticks, or perhaps instead use Frances fav...the guillotine.

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Comment by cheryl cliff on January 2, 2010 at 2:20am
What a sweet thing to say Rebecca!! Thank you!
Comment by Rebecca Saulsbury on January 1, 2010 at 7:04pm
Okay, I'm late on this story, but Cheryl and husband, I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE ON OUR SIDE! Your son is lucky he has great advocates who stand up for him. Here's to lots of fun exciting trips around the world for your whole family together.
Comment by cheryl cliff on December 8, 2009 at 12:50pm
Thanks Patti and everyone,

Air France never really said what the problem was with the scooter, probably because there was no problem...just kept referring back to "our policy". Their "policy" is antiquated, racist against handicapped people, and against the law here where they conduct business. So, we have organized our records, incl communications with FFA, and plan to move forward to prevent this from happening to another family. Maybe they will think again when overbooking a flight then cutting handicapped travelers. Ttheir perception of handicapped=destitute people who can't fight the system because they have too much to deal with. This is exactically what happened because the night we were refused onboard another young person in a wheelchair (not even a scooter) was refused on board too. That family was instructed to "come back tomorrow nite", just like we were. I saw that same family fly to France on the plane we took the following nite.

Air France sucks.
Comment by Patti Frank on December 8, 2009 at 11:57am
Unbelievable!! What exactly was the problem with the scooter. Just put it in the hold like the wheelchairs and strollers. Leave it to the French!! Sorry about that but I've been to France and they are always cranky and forget how much the USA helped them in the war. They need to have some wine and relax. Hope you pursue this full tilt -- we would!!
Comment by cheryl cliff on September 25, 2009 at 10:28pm
Well, we're finally just back from France. Really, if travelling in the USA you don't need special permission or anything to board a plane with a scooter...but Air France doesn't want to admit that to customers because they need an excuse when overbooking, which is what we figured this is all about. We plan to take legal action with hope to prevent anyone else from having this problem with them again. And, as parents we don't want either of our sons (one without dmd) experiencing this without knowing we can and will fight back.

This trip was in the works for years in advance, we saved and planned to fulfill Alexander's desire to see Eiffel Tower, Notra Dame and the Mona Lisa. We all were totally devistated when they refused to let us board the plane because of the scooter! I am not embarassed to say I personally yelled at the jerk who refused us, he deserved it. When they claimed their "policy" was above USA law, I was proud when my husband called them liars. Our entire trip had a negative quality as we expected more discrimination from them. Things worked out mostly ok, French people are as nice as anyone else but they don't seem to have many handicapped people around. We got loads of hard staring when going about with Alexander in his scooter.

Thanks for all your comments and support!! Please know how much that means to us especially when faced with such discrimination.
Comment by Jennifer Wallace on September 23, 2009 at 12:13pm
Cheryl,
I know that I don't know you, but I ran across your posting. I am flabergasted! (if that's how you spell it)! I know that it's only been a week but have you gotten anywhere with this? It is upsetting to hear that they could be so blantantly out of line!
Comment by Jacobs Mommom on September 15, 2009 at 6:20pm
Wow Cheryl:

I'm speechless! Now that is something else that we have to worry about! Please keep us informed as to what happens.
Comment by Cori on September 15, 2009 at 4:04pm
Oh MY GOODNESS!!! I would be SO furious...I hope you made a scene! It's not like me to do that, but that is absolutely ridiculous! One more thing that just proves that SO many people have no clue about this horrible disease. If you need any help getting them to refund you or someone to support you emotionally through your upcoming battle you just let me know! How is your son taking it? It worries me when stuff like this happens to you guys because I can't imagine how the 'little one' feels...just as we are moving into a one story, thankfully trey is only 5 and excited to go somewhere else...but if he was a bit older I know he would know that we are moving to adapt to him, not sure how to deal with those situations, thankfully I have some time...
Comment by Catriena Martel on September 15, 2009 at 3:43pm
WOW! My son lives in El Paso Tx. and I live in Montgomery, Al. he is in a big powerchair and we haven't had any problems to this day with American Airlines. When him and I fly alone, as we often do, they even send someone out to help me get from one gate to another even though he drives his w/c and I can carry the bags, even follow us to the car to help out. I would definately report this to the airline company!

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