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HELP - Airlines Can Be A Pain!!!

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Hi everyone Im very new to this forum so Im not sure where this is meant to go but please read this and hopefully if anyone has any advice or tips or since it would be much appreciated.

For the past month I have been writing to Airlines asking for advice about how I would be able to get a special ugrade from Economy Class to First class due to my disability, for my planned trip to Australia on the 21st of December 2013 until the 1st of February 2014. I have now received an email back from different airlines with an unsatisfactory response where I do not believe they have taken special consideration. Below I enclose more details on the situation:

My name is Lee Mitch and I have a severe disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 (SMA TYPE 2 for short). This consequently makes me electric wheelchair bound/unable to walk, and unable to do anything on my own without help, which requires me to have a carer/personal-assistant 24/7. I need 24/7 medical assistance, it is necessary for my personal assistant/ carer to be with me at all times as I can’t be left on my own. SMA Type 2 also gives me added health problems such as scoliosis (curvature of the spine). I enclose the following link that gives further information on my disability and some of the health issues it brings.

However my disability brings me a dominant disadvantage when flying. Usually for short-haul flights the longest I can sit in an economy seat is approximately an hour and that is with heavy painkillers.

On a long-haul flight however, this is a different story. For my 21st Birthday, I went to Las Vegas with British Airways Economy Class. Within an hour of the flight I was in excruciating pain, due to the seat not supporting my disability and associated health problems. The flight attendants upgraded me to First Class where I was able to lay down, adjust my position frequently, softer seating, have privacy due to personal medical issues, extra legroom and other factors of being First Class privileged passenger. On the return trip I was automatically upgraded due to my disability and the scenario which occurred before.

Traveling First Class to Australia Melbourne would accommodate all of my disability and personal needs. Unlike most passengers I will be stationed in the seat for the whole duration of the flight. I would need to be able to lie down and reposition in privacy for pressure and pain relief medical purposes. In addition to this, I would not be able to use toileting facilities; therefore, having a First Class Suite would allow me to use a discreet portable urine bottle.

I have emailed a specific letter to the following Airlines:
· British Airways Customer Relations CEO
· Emirates Customer Relations
· Qatar Customer Relations
· Air China
Asking them for special consideration in upgrading me from Economy Class to First Class, on the basis of medical grounds, as it is not my fault Economy class does not cater for my medical/disability needs.

I also enclosed a support letter from my doctor which confirms my disability and medical needs and the appropriateness of flying First Class. [I can also provide this letter to you].

The replies I have received are shown below:

· British Airways Customer Relations CEO – “While I completely understand the reason for your request, and do not underestimate the severity of your condition, I cannot arrange for you to be upgraded from World Traveller to First. We receive many requests for upgrades, and a great number very similar to you own. We have to ensure that we are fair and consistent to all of our customers, so we are unable to meet the vast majority of requests.”

· Emirates Customer Relations - Whilst I empathise with the situation, unfortunately it is not Emirates policy to offer complimentary upgrades, in fairness to those passengers who have paid the higher First class fare.”

· Qatar Customer Relations – “We regret to advise you that it is not Qatar Airways policy to offer complimentary upgrades unless it is for operational reasons only and we are sorry that we are unable to grant your request on this occasion”

· Air China – “At this stage I am sorry to say that we can only offer wheel chair assistants at the airport and to the plane. For free upgrade service I cannot say if this service will be offered and guarantee with Air China.”

I would be more than happy to forward you on the whole responses at your request.

If it wasn’t for my disability I would happily travel economy class, however, due to my condition I cannot undertake such a long journey in economy class – an inadequate provision that doesn’t cater for my disability. The only way I can make the journey is by a lie down bed style seat/cabin (see attached Doctors medical statement).

Also, I need a carer to help at all times for day to day activities – feeding, toileting etc. From a safety aspect, I cannot lift myself, reach an emergency exit unaided, unfasten a seat belt, retrieve and fit a life jacket or fit an oxygen mask etc. therefore it is essential that I will need to travel with my companion/carer/ safety assistant next to me for help to do this.

I maintain that due to no fault of my own I have to fund an upgrade to cater for my disability. I would suggest that given these unique circumstances, it is grossly unfair to have to pay for two upgrades just because of the nature of my disability.

If anyone knows of any advice or contacts of help that could help me achieve this it would be greatly appreciated. I'm not sure how the email works on here but reply to me where I can give you my email address.

Thank you for taking time to read this

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