Braille Monitor May-June 1986
(I ask that Monitor readers study carefully the following material. It is a refreshing departure from the usual nonsense and downright paranoia we have come to expect from most of the airlines. I also ask every Federationist and every friend of the blind to use Frontier Airlines when traveling whenever possible, even if it sometimes means some inconvenience in schedule. We should respond positively to people who treat us like first-class human beings instead of slaves and secondclass citizens.--Kenneth Jernigan, President, National Federation of the Blind.)
February 24, 1986
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
Enclosed you will find a copy of the Frontier Airlines policy concerning assistance to blind passengers and the seating of blind passengers.
As you will note from the policy, Frontier has simply defined the category of "the handicapped" so that it does not include the blind. Frontier's restricted seating policy excludes the blind from the category of those who receive restricted seat assignments by two methods. First, the title of the restricted seating section excludes the blind from coverage by the section. Secondly, the section contains a flat statement that the blind are not included in the category of those whose seating is restricted.
The Frontier policy has two other delightful features. First, Frontier emphasizes repeatedly that assistance by its employees is optional and to be provided only when the passenger wants it. Secondly, persons using white canes and guide dogs are treated exactly the same under Frontier's policy. This means that dog users have no more restriction on their seating preference than do cane users when flying Frontier. Any blind person can sit anywhere on any Frontier plane.
Mr. Mark Warinner, who sent me this policy, told me orally that Frontier had filed this procedure with its FAA office in Denver in the routine way. In a routine filing, the FAA office supervising an airline accepts the filing, looks it over, then either lets the filing stand or communicates its disapproval to the airline. If the FAA office suggests that something is wrong, the airline and the FAA office usually negotiate until an agreement is reached. The airline then withdraws its filing, writes out the agreement, and files it as the airline's own policy. The FAA says nothing, and the filing stands.
Mr. Warinner told me that he filed this procedure in the routine way in August of 1985. The FAA office replied that it was not sure this was the thing to do and didn't Frontier want to think about this in light of the CAMI study. Leaving this filing at the FAA office, Mr. Warinner wrote to the Department of Transportation inquiring whether airlines or the FAA made airline policy in this instance. His letter has never been answered. His policy is still on file and in effect. He said he would send me a copy of the letter he wrote to DOT, although I have not yet received it.
FRONTIER AIRLINES CUSTOMER HANDLING
Chapter 55-2 Page 59
CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE (Cont'd)
8.03 Sightless and/or Deaf Persons
Any sightless and/or deaf person in otherwise good health shall be accepted for passage and is not considered handicapped.
A sightless or deaf person accompanied by a dog guide or hearing dog may be permitted to carry the dog with him/her in the cabin of the aircraft at no extra charge.
Sightless or deaf passengers (including their dog, guide or hearing) may be seated anywhere they desire.
In addition to stowing in closets or carry-on bins, travel canes carried by blind individuals may be stowed--
(1) Under any series of connected passenger seats in the same row, if the cane is flat on the floor; or (2) Between a non-emergency exit window seat and the fuselage, if the cane is flat on the floor.
All possible assistance shall be rendered to blind or deaf passengers, if desired by the passenger. (Ask the passenger if assistance is desired.) This includes guidance to the lavatory and assistance in location of food and utensils on food trays.
The Check-In Agent Will: If desired by passenger, early board and identify passenger to Flight Attendant.
The Flight Attendant Will: Identify passenger to Agent at transfer points and destination, if special assistance is requested.
The Transfer Point Agent Will: Repeat step of Check-In Agent above.
8.04 Handicapped Seating Criteria (Except Sightless and/or Deaf Passengers)
The seat locations disscussed herein are the preferred locations for safety and comfort; however, nothing shall prevent the use of other seats if the customer desires, or if needed due to capacity, as long as an emergency exit row is not used. For the purposes of seating, there are two types of physically handicapped passengers, ambulatory and non-ambulatory. Blind or deaf passengers seating is not restricted.
Ambulatory means the passenger does not require assistance to evacuate and non-ambulatory means the passenger does require assistance to evacuate. Ill or infirm passengers will have to be judged as ambulatory or non-ambulatory, whichever is applicable.
Ambulatory Non-Smoker: Row 5 Window
Ambulatory Smoker: Row 12 Window
Non-Ambulatory Non-Smoker: Row 5 Aisle
Non-Ambulatory Smoker: Row 12 Aisle