We remind that a young person in wheelchair a couple of months ago was going to fly to Estonia for the participation in a study visit. The inviting party while buying the tickets warned that the passenger needs special service. Airport staff guaranteed to provide Evgeny with a special wheelchair, without which it is not safe to board a plane.
In practice it was in a different way: he was transported from the boarding ramp to his place not in a special wheelchair, but in a “chair” with four wheels.
– Such means of transportation is not safe for me. It is not equipped with seatbelts and height adjustment mechanism. Because of my physical peculiarities in case of a fall I cannot properly react. And a fall can cause a lethal outcome, – says Evgeny Shevko.
According to Shevko, airport staff reacted to his requests and criticism very negatively and made several unpleasant remarks.
Evgeny Shevko filed a lawsuit against “Minsk National Airport” with a demand to compensate for moral damages 10mln rubles, to get rid of “chairs with wheels” and to replace them with modern wheelchairs specially designed for transporting passengers with limited mobility.
The case had lasted for several months and there was a tentative agreement with the airport for out-of-court settlement and satisfaction of a claim. But at the last sitting airport’s representatives declined the out-of-court settlement having referred to the fact that they would modernize all the chairs they already have and that they bought 6 new ones. The court’s decision was to pay the claimant 5mln rubbles compensation for moral damages.
– What happened with Evgeny is a common situation. Our foreign colleagues and Belarusian passengers who need extra assistance in boarding a plane many times complained us about the service in the airport, – comments on the situation the expert of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Sergei Drozdovskiy. – Evgeny is one of few who had enough strength and courage and filed a suit to protect his rights knowing that the case could last for several months.
By the way, the airport in cooperation with interested organizations two years ago worked out its own standard in servicing persons with limited mobility. This standard was violated in the case of Shevko, mentions the specialist of Office.
In international practice there is a special technology of boarding a plane and dropping off wheelchair-bound passengers.
– In international practice wheelchair-bound passengers are the first to board a plane and the last to drop off and when other passengers board a plane a wheelchair-bound person is already in the plane and when they drop off – still in a chair. You don’t feel any discomfort, moral or physical, – says the chairman of public association “Belarusian society of disabled” Vladimir Potapenko. In my practice international airlines and airports are always very polite and responsive, they care about their reputation. Why isn’t it the same way in our country?
Potapenko also pays attention to the fact that public NGOs working with persons with disabilities are ready for the dialogue. They can always and free of charge consult on the ways of making public service for persons with disabilities more accessible on the basis of real needs and problems of persons with disabilities.