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Thursday 10 September 2009: Virgin Blue Airlines today joined with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) to announce the implementation from midnight tonight of changes to the application of the airline’s Independent Travel Criteria.


The changes give Guests with special needs more freedom to make their own choices about independent travel. Importantly, the changes will also have the effect of making travel on Virgin Blue more accessible, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities.


The airline is making the changes after feedback from Guests and extensive consultation with Australia’s peak disability and advocacy groups (including PIAC) and the Australian Human Rights Commission.


From tonight, any Guest who:


is able to understand and respond to briefings about emergency procedures; and

does not require personal assistance during flight (i.e. assistance with going to the toilet, administering medication and food and beverage consumption);

may travel unaccompanied.


“We are continuously reviewing all of our processes and we are extremely pleased that through consultation with a wide range of interest groups we have been able to introduce changes to the way we apply our Independent Travel Criteria, which is more attractive to our Guests with special needs, while at the same time not compromising our commitment to ensuring the safety of all of our Guests and Crew,” said Andrew David, Chief Operating Officer, Virgin Blue Airlines Group.


“A key principle underpinning the change is that in the past we have been prescriptive in relation to deciding whether a Guest meets our Independent Travel Criteria. We are now giving some of our Guests the freedom to choose to travel independently.”


Responding to the change, the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Ms Robin Banks, said: “We commend Virgin Blue for demonstrating that they are willing to take a positive and inclusive approach to changing the way they operate to improve the travel experience for people with disability.”


“The changes to Virgin Blue’s Independent Travel Criteria policy - and more importantly their application in practice - certainly promote equitable travel and are a positive example to all airlines,” she said.