It’s a bit like Cricket, you expect your opener to do something exceptional and Simon Ralph from IATA did not disappoint when he took his position, he hits a six straight into the crowd, telling the delegates ‘this is long long overdue’. This was the inaugural IATA Global Accessibility Symposium in Dubai; I believe the start of something special and Simon said what every advocate and accessibility stakeholder had been saying for many years.
All the speakers delivered with passion and we all learnt something, the more we learn and understand from advocates and stakeholders the more we can help each other. Delegates came from all corners of the globe, for many (like me) those little social media pictures of the people we interact with on a regular basis suddenly came to life, the body language oozes passion.
There are many high priorities to make air travel more accessible, so what should come first? Perhaps the start of harmonisation? Scott Steiner from the Canadian Transport Association delivered a stunning speech and threw a couple of those metaphorical grenades into the room, the big take away is how the CTA have legislated all domestic flights to allow a free attendant/PA/Carer free. Here is an opportunity to take that baton of a precedent and run it towards harmonisation, however I am not so naïve to think that this can be done with one stripe of a pen, but a trigger for a 6-month consultation would be the start.
My personal thanks go to IATA’s Linda Ristagno for her recent work on this and engaging with the advocates and stakeholders to make the Symposium a success. Perhaps the next one could bring the innovators, those that have tangible solutions or just want to pitch and get feedback.
The IATA hashtag #FlyInclusive now hangs over social media with the others that send a message #FlyingForAll #WheelchAIRtravel.