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Alert to guide-dog users travelling to Europe--

From: T. V. Raman <tvraman@almaden.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 18:41:10 -0800
Message-ID: <14960.58310.639144.455497@raman.almaden.ibm.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, w3c-wai-ua@w3.org, w3c-wai-pf@w3.org
I'm posting this here as an alert to any WAI members
 travelling to Europe with guide dogs.
Europe still appears to be an access blackhole in many
 respects --inaccessible hotels,
cab drivers who refuse guide dogs etc. --the absence of
 something like the ADA is glaringly obvious.

My first two trips to Europe with my guide-dog Bubbels
--Munich and Amsterdam were pleasant and uneventful-- This
time I had serious trouble returning from Europe Paris (see
below)-- and in summary I would recommend avoiding Paris in
general-- and Air France at all costs.

We went to Turin (Italy) for the voice browser FTF via Paris
 --had a ticket on Delta Airways who have a co-share with
 Air France.  So I had a non-stop SFO->Paris --and a
 Paris->Turin flight both directions operated by Air France.

The trip out was uneventful --no trouble.  On the return
when I landed at Paris they asked me if I had a muzzle for
my dog.  I said yes, and that I'd put it on her when they
wanted me to.  (Incidentally this in itself was a first in
12 years of guide-dog use).

At this point I put on the muzzle on Bubble dog --and
assumed all would be okay.  The Air france rep then told me
that the muzzle was not a French muzzle and therefore did
not meet French standards-- and that they would not let me
board my flight to SFO.  

I explained to them that this was a American guide-dog
school approved muzzle conforming to the law-- they then
said that it might conform to American law but it did not
conform to French law and that they would not let me board.
Then they helpfully offered to package up Bubble dog in the
cargo making it sound like a great favor saying "but she
will be on the same plane as you"-- When further asked why
they had not mentioned this in SFO when I travelled out,
they said that that time were leaving the US --so it was
different --this time they said because we were in Paris
they would enforce French law.  At this point I told them
that I had a ticket on an American airline --they continued
to insist that since was only a co-share agreement with
delta they were not obliged to do what Delta did.

I finally had them connect me with Delta Airways who
promptly put me on a plane operated by Delta --so we ended
up getting routed through Atlanta and came home 6 hours
later than we would have.

In summary the situation ended much better than it might
have purely because I had bought my ticket from an American
airline company as opposed to directly from Air France.

Best Regards,

IBM Research: Human Language Technologies
Phone:        1 (408) 927 2608
Fax:        1 (408) 927 3012
Email:        tvraman@us.ibm.com
WWW:      http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/raman
PGP:          http://cs.cornell.edu/home/raman/raman.asc 
Snail:        IBM Almaden Research Center,
              650 Harry Road
              San Jose 95120
Received on Thursday, 25 January 2001 21:42:30 UTC

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