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“Putting Development

Before The Disability”

Exceptional Vacations Provides High Quality

Vacations for Individuals with Developmental

Disabilities and Other Special Needs.

Exceptional Vacations is a division of Exceptional Services Group.

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Airlines Need to Train Their Staff on Disability Issues - Part 2


A story recently broke about a man with cerebral palsy who crawled off a plane in order to use the restroom.  The airline mistakenly sent his aisle chair away before the flight landed.  An aisle chair is a narrow chair that can roll down the aisle of an aircraft.  After waiting for them to bring the chair back and needing to use the restroom, he finally decided it would be better to crawl off the plane to avoid an accident.  The airline staff just stood by and watched as he crawled out of his seat and off the plane to a wheelchair.  Ironically he was traveling home from a meeting regarding travel accessibility.  The airline did issue an apology and gave him a $300 credit toward a future flight.


We had previously shared a story about a mother who was "humiliated" by flight attendants when the airline staff insisted her daughter "sit up" in her seat for the flight.  (Click Here to see story.) Ivy was a 3 year old stroke survivor who was unable to sit up.  In this case the airline told ABC News, "The parents, who were ticketed in first class, wanted to hold the child in their lap rather than have the child take the seat they'd purchased for her in economy. Federal safety regulations require any child over the age of two to have his or her own seat, and flight attendants are required by law to enforce that safety rule. As we did in this case, we will always try to work with customers on seating arrangements in the event of any special needs."


Ivy's mother said she understands the rule, but "there are significant and obvious and extenuating circumstances here."  Ultimately, Ivy ended up lying, belted in, across their laps for takeoff and landing. She sat on her mother's lap for the rest of the trip.

"Every time I see one of these stories I hope some good will come of this.  I'm disheartened when a few months later I hear a similar story," said Jill Vassi, Vice President of Exceptional Vacations.  Exceptional Vacations provides supervised vacations for adults with intellectual disabilities and other special needs.  


Unfortunately, this continues to be a common theme among individuals with disabilities and their support staff.  They just want the airline staff to be trained in dealing with special needs in a compassionate and service oriented way.  As we stated before, if the airlines do not do this then it is a lose-lose situation.  The airlines lose customers and the individuals with disabilities continue to be marginalized.


October 2015