Special Needs for Travelers: Two Seats

» Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 in Airlines | 0 comments

The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) authorizes additional travel and transportation expenses for those with disabilities or special needs.  In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, these provisions are intended to accommodate an employee with a special need or disability. These provisions are intended to accommodate an employee with a disability or special need by providing for reimbursement of necessary additional travel and transportation expenses incurred in the performance of official travel. The JTR also authorizes employees with a disability o r special need to be reimbursed for travel expenses when using Premium Class Travel. The premium class accommodations may be authorized by an approving official if the travel presents a medical certification from a physician.

When you think of special needs you think of physical uniqueness of the employee not inevitably defined under disability which could be height or weight.  Today, airlines are charging travelers who are obese for a second seat. According to Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air travelers are require the purchase of an additional seat for any customer who cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in a down position. Air Canada and West Jet airlines have put a new policy into place stating that if an obese traveler needs an extra seat they have to have a doctor’s note in order to obtain one. Doctors are extremely  disappointed with this new policy as it puts the decision on them as to who is “big enough” to have an extra seat, a pressure they have no desire to have.  In 2008, an overwhelming 76 percent of WA travelers surveyed by travel.com.au said they believed two seats were better than one for the heavily overweight and obese.

A standard airline seatbelt extends 46 inches, and a seatbelt extension adds 26 inches for a total of 71 inches.  The option to purchase an extra seat is available to those individuals who require service based on the seat dimensions. When using the Defense Travel System (DTS), the reservation must be booked outside of DTS by calling the Commercial Travel Office (CTO) and add into DTS as “Other Ticketed Transportation”. With this said, “The prices can get kind of costly if a traveler is coming from the West Coast”.

In my opinion, there should not charge the full price for extra seats.  I understand that if a passenger takes up additional seats, they should pay extra but not the full price.  You can look at this as a form of discrimination. The airline has seats available on the plane to charge you double; the plane was flying without passengers for those seats regardless. I think it’s all about profit due to the recession. We all deserve to be treated with fairness and respect no matter if you are super slim or obese. The airlines should make the seats accommodate everyone who flies.

By Stacey Clark

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