Braille Monitor April 1986
As we said in the January, 1986, Monitor, NINNESCAH is a magazine which is published primarily for the airline industry. Its editor is Ellis Reida. The November-December issue of NINNESCAH carried an interview with President Jernigan and was largely taken up with the airline controversy. The January-February, 1986, issue of NINNESCAH continues the discussion. Among other things, Mr. Reida has some comments about a new policy by one of the nation's airlines. Although he does not name the airline or the city in question, he is referring to United Airlines and to Chicago. As is so tiresomely true, United is undoubtedly doing it in the name of safety. It is enough to make one change the ancient proverb: "The road to hell and insanity is paved with nonsense about safety." Here is what Mr. Reida says:
Administrative Convenience Rules
Dr. Oral O. Miller, at the end of his comments in the interview with him in this issue, cautions air carriers against indiscriminately applying "administrative rules," as often such rules are "an inconvenience and even an embarrassment to someone else."
Air carriers must establish administrative rules to facilitate operations and control passenger flow. However, a danger can exist when rules are established to control a class of passengers who are "different" in some way. Perhaps the point is best illustrated by an example. One United States airline has an excellent record over the years offering services to the handicapped. Disabled passengers routinely had rated it as the best U.S. airline in such services.
However, with its development of the "hub and spoke" traffic system, the carrier found itself with a great number of flights in and out of one airport. It noticed that it took a lot of staff time just to move disabled passengers between flights.
Then someone had a bright idea. All transferring disabled passengers would be gathered in a central location, from which they could be more "conveniently" dispersed to their continuing flights. Suddenly incoming disabled passengers have found that they cannot meet friends, shop, make a phone call, or just "kill time" in the terminal as other passengers. They are forcibly placed in a room, and airline personnel actually mount guard to insure that the passengers don't stray. It even has been seen as a further "convenience" to make everyone wear badges or buttons to help personnel sort them out.
The above system is a good one for baggage, and evidently those who have devised the administrative convenience rules tend to see passengers who are "different" as somewhat like baggage. There has been an uproar from disabled passengers, their families, and friends who have the holding room experience of the above airline at the described airport. It is in danger of losing the good will which has been so carefully built over the years.
Dr. Miller's caution about such rules should receive careful reflection by air carrier executives, especially when they are applied only to one class of passenger.