Comair to fly deaf, blind priest

2013-08-14 11:15

(Martin Bureau, AFP)

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Cape Town - Deaf and blind Priest Cyril Axelrod will be assisted in his future travel arrangements with domestic carrier Comair, after the airline refused to let him fly over the weekend as he did not have the required guide to accompany him.

Comair said in a statement that it has rebooked Axelrod’s existing ticket, after a request from him to rebook his flight on Thursday.

"Father Axelrod will have an escort arranged for by Comair at no cost to the customer in a goodwill gesture to assist him in his further travels. Father Axelrod has a ticket to fly back from Johannesburg to London and has however been advised that Comair requires a self-supplied escort for any future travels with a Comair operated flight."

Axelrod, who was on his way to give a church service in Joburg over the weekend, was refused a boarding pass for being in breach of Comair policy which required him to have a guide to assist him in the event of an emergency.

The International advocate for deaf and blind people, who is in Cape Town to develop a training and services programme with the Deaf Federation of South Africa, says he was ‘humiliated’ by local airline Comair after it refused to allow him to board the plane because its policy differs from British Airways PLc (Comair only operates under licence of BA, but is entirely South African owned and a separate business entity).

Axelrod has been flying across the globe unaided with a Medical Card issued by British Airways PLC confirming he is blind and deaf and can manage unaided on board a flight. The card also confirms crew can communicate with him by writing on his palm.

“I can’t believe how they treated me because I have been flying alone for 13 years. I’ve been flying all over the world and this is the first time this has happened.

“I always help staff to learn how to work with me. They’re always happy to communicate.

Shaun Pozyn, Comair’s marketing manager, explained that the airline’s policy did not allow deaf and blind people to travel alone for safety issues, and that this was explained to Axelrod.

Comair was communicating with Axelrod to see how it could resolve the matter, Pozyn added.
Read more on:    comair  |  johannesburg  |  cape town  |  travel  |  travel south africa  |  flights

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