Disabled: 'Not Allowed To Book With Web Site'
“You’re Not Allowed To Book With Our Web Site”, Pacific Blue Tells Disabled
While many New Zealanders applaud the cheaper airfares resulting from Pacific Blue’s arrival this week, disabled people are wondering how it’s possible, or legal, for the airline to treat them as second class citizens in 2007.
Jonathan Mosen is a Vice-President of an American IT company. He travels frequently on many airlines worldwide for his work. He is based in New Zealand, and is totally blind.
Mosen uses software and hardware that makes his computer talk and display information in Braille, so he can use the Internet. But he says he was shocked and outraged to find that Pacific Blue’s website explicitly says that because he is blind, he is not allowed to book on the web site.
“I book many domestic flights on a variety of airlines, particularly in the US,” Mosen says. “But never before have I come across a site that says because I’m blind, I am not allowed to use the web site and must book through the call centre.”
Mosen says he raised his concerns with a supervisor at the Pacific Blue Call Centre, who told him that that’s the way it was and it wasn’t going to change.
“She told me that the airline wants to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Mosen said. “Yet I fail to see how telling a call centre operator I’m blind is going to make my journey go any smoother than me conveying that same information via a web site.”
While acknowledging that Pacific Blue is offering Internet fares to disabled people who book via their call centre, Jonathan Mosen says it’s a question of convenience and equal access. “They’re just making me go through utterly unnecessary hoops to do what every other Internet user is doing. It seems to me Pacific Blue are acting illegally under New Zealand’s Human Rights legislation, by preventing me from making a booking in the same way that I can with other airlines, and in the manner that the majority of New Zealanders are able to use.”
Jonathan Mosen says that the Pacific Blue situation is an extraordinary one.
“Occasionally, we have issues because a web site is designed in such a way that it’s difficult for technology used by the blind to work with the site. But in the case of Pacific Blue, the site is very useable, it’s just that the airline threatens not to honour the bookings of disabled travellers if they book using the website. I am already aware of one blind person who has innocently made a booking on the web unaware of the draconian conditions the airline imposes. If they refuse to carry him for the sin of using their web site, it will be interesting to see if the Human Rights Commission steps in,” Mosen said.
Jonathan Mosen is calling for Pacific Blue to handle the bookings of disabled passengers in the same way other airlines do, and for the Human Rights Commission to intervene if immediate change isn’t forthcoming.
“Every other airline I’ve ever booked with has allowed me to tell them via the web that I am blind and will require assistance to and from my flight. This isn’t rocket science, every other airline is doing it. Pacific Blue has got to stop treating blind people, deaf people, and wheelchair users like second class citizens, and allow us to book via the website just like everyone else,” Mosen concluded.
The Pacific Blue
requirements for “special needs” passengers may be found