Removing the Static


Making arrangements for travel clients to receive services booked is key to success. The Canadian Transportation Agency continues to work hard to support travel professionals in their efforts to provide quality service to travellers with disabilities.

A recent Agency survey of 1,120 persons with disabilities who travel by air established that 66 per cent of travellers with disabilities book their flights through a travel agent. The survey also revealed that 19 per cent of individual requests related to services for persons with disabilities made at booking were not properly passed on to the carrier personnel.

A letter was sent to all travel agencies and airlines operating in Canada by the Agency so that travel professionals will be aware of some of the real life problems encountered by travellers with disabilities during trips arranged for them by the travel industry. Identifying these difficulties is an important first step towards eliminating the obstacles being encountered during the trip.

A lot of the problems arise as the result of a lack of clear communication at the level of the travel agency and the air carrier. The letter sets out suggestions to improve the dialogue between persons with disabilities and travel agencies and airlines’ reservation staff, to help meet their travel-related needs, such as:

• Travel agents should be aware of carriers’ policies and procedures with respect to the carriage of passengers with disabilities and ensure that this information is conveyed accurately to passengers with disabilities so that they can make informed decisions about their travel options.

• Travel agents should obtain a clear understanding of the travel-related needs of passengers with disabilities and use the “Reservation Check-List – Air Travel” to accurately communicate these needs to the carrier.

• Simple procedures for relaying information between travel agents and carriers should be encouraged so that the carrier is made aware of the passenger’s needs related to his/her disability to enable it to apply its policies and procedures in a manner that will ensure, as far as possible, that the person’s needs are met during travel.

• If the carrier is unclear as to the passenger’s needs related to his/her disability, it should request further information to enable it to make informed decisions as to the services that should be provided.

Appended to the letter was the Agency’s “Reservation Check List – Air Travel,” which provides travel agents with an easy-to-use guide for assessing and documenting the additional needs of all customers. The Check List sets out some 60 possible disability related services or accommodations identified under 20 themes, all of which are concisely presented on two pages. The Check-List includes space to indicate the date the request for services was made to the booking agent, the date the booking agent notified the carrier of the request and the date the carrier confirmed that the services would be provided to the traveller with a disability. Items covered by the Check List include: accessible seating, advance notice, arrival and departure services, on board aircraft services, service animals, use of personal wheelchairs during the journey and the carriage of mobility and technical aids.

In the summer of 2001, the Agency first distributed the Checklist to all Canadian travel agencies and airlines operating in Canada for use by their reservation staff as a tool for ensuring that the travel-related needs of persons with disabilities are met. Its use is not mandatory; however, feedback was very positive. Many callers thanked the Agency for developing such a useful tool.

The Check-List and the letter are available at

Chris Stark is Manager, Monitoring and Liaison at the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Accessible Transportation Directorate
Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N9
Voice: (819) 997-6828
or 1-888-222-2592 (Canada only)
TTY: (819) 953-9705
or 1-800-669-5575 (Canada only)
Fax: (819) 953-6019


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