‘Riding Shotgun’ Reddit Series Rolls Into New Orleans

When last we posted about Zach Anner, it was to inform you that he and reddit had partnered up to launch an online series called “Riding Shotgun.” The premise is simple, albeit it a great example of next-gen multi-media. Zach, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, travels to various domestic destinations and participates in activities, all culled from and selected by vote by reddit users.

If this sounds warped, it’s only because that’s how Zach rolls (pun intended). He’s handsome, funny, charming, and by his own admission, has lousy luck with women. The latest episode takes place in New Orleans. Zach and his crew visit legendary restaurant Antoine’s, and then go honky-tonkin’ at Tulane University dive The Boot. Check it out, below.

US Airways: no solo flights for the disabled

If US Airways is looking for a motivational speaker to help it inspire employees and improve customer service, I have one in mind. In fact, he knows US Airways well, including the service areas most in need of help.

Johnnie Tuitel tried to fly the carrier recently but was told he was too disabled to go it alone.

According to the Associated Press:

“I was raised to believe I could grow up doing what I wanted to do and it didn’t lead me to any entitlement,” Johnnie Tuitel, 47, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Saturday. “By them denying me the ability to fly, I couldn’t do my job.”

It’s not like this motivational speaker, who has cerebral palsy, isn’t accustomed to flying. He has logged 500,000 miles to give his speeches.

Tuitel actually made it onto the plane, which was going from West Palm Beach to Kansas City, when a gate agent took him and wheeled him back to the terminal.

The reason he was given was straightforward:

“He told me I could fly on U.S. Airways if I could find a companion to go with me because I was a danger to myself and others if something went wrong,” Tuitel told WZZM-TV. “Trust me, they made a mistake.”

Two days later, he flew alone, as usual.

US Airways is leaning on policy (shocking, right?):

“The airline requires that the passenger has to be physically able to assist himself or herself in the event of an emergency. If the passenger cannot, the airline requires that someone else travels with the passenger who can provide assistance in the event of an emergency,” she told the television station.

EasyJet bans disabled, French government mad

EasyJet isn’t letting unaccompanied disabled passengers onto its flights, and the French government is furious. It’s threatening the airline with sanctions “with the greatest severity” for leaving these passengers on the ground. The government response was triggered by EasyJet‘s refusing to allow three passengers on flights after they bought tickets, citing safety concerns.

In a statement by the French transport ministry reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, “EasyJet cannot hide behind safety regulations for refusing to board passengers who have difficulty moving around.” It continued, “It must implement solutions adapted to each case, as most companies do. Otherwise it must be sanctioned with the greatest severity.”

EasyJet says it’s in discussion with the French government to work out a solution but noted through a spokeswoman, “European regulations oblige us to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds so we are authorised to ask someone to accompany (those needing assistance) to assure the safety of the person and the passengers.”

[photo by twinkleboi via Flickr]

Expedia launches new search tool for disabled travelers

A new search tool from Expedia and Hotels.com makes it easier for consumers to find hotels that offer accommodations for disabled travelers. The search function will allow travelers to filter results to only show those hotels with accessibility equipment for the deaf, handicap-accessible bathrooms, Braille or raised signage, a roll-in shower and more. Once a hotel is located, a customer can request one or more of the specific accessibility features on Expedia.com’s online Reservation Page.

I did a quick search for hotels in Miami with accessibility features on Hotels.com and Expedia.com. The results were plentiful, and included properties that range in price and star-rating. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach, for example, offers rooms equipped with accessibility equipment for the deaf, raised signage, handicapped parking, and rooms with roll-in showers. The Marriott Miami Biscayne Beach offers similar options, as do the 62 other hotels that came up after I filtered my search. However, all these hotels note that amenities may be available only in some rooms and some amenities may incur additional fees, so it’s best to double check with your Expedia or Hotels.com customer service rep about any additional fees before booking.

To ensure the hotel is absolutely accessible for the needs of the traveler, Expedia.com and Hotels.com customer service team will review the traveler’s request for the hotel booking and contact the hotel to verify the specific needs of the traveler are met. Expedia or Hotels.com will follow up with call to the consumer to confirm the reservation or aid in booking another hotel.

According to HotelMarketing.com, Expedia.com offers more than 15,000 hotels that publish accessibility options.

Gadlinks for Tuesday, 1.26.2010

Happy Tuesday, Gadling fans! Here are a few more travel tidbits to help you through the week.

More Gadlinks HERE.