Virgin Australia breaks new ground for flyers with disabilities

Andrew Munro 20 April 2017 NEWS

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More entertainment, more options, more assistance... less cost?

Virgin Australia has become the second in the world, and the first in the Asia Pacific region, to introduce blind and low-vision in-flight entertainment systems. Compared to other airlines Virgin Australia already goes above and beyond for sight impaired passengers, and now it may have cemented its position as the number one choice for travellers that may need assistance.

The new in-flight system includes voice prompts, simplified screen layouts and larger icons to make it much easier to navigate, and offers a range of movies, music, audiobooks and TV shows, as well as more accessibility to flight info, like time and distance to destination.

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These new features, rolling out on Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 flights throughout 2017, come on the back of a range of improvements for hearing impaired flyers, like subtitled and closed-captioned movies and shows, as well as a growing range of non-narrative documentaries and handpicked reading material instead of just the usual in-flight magazines.

Virgin Australia already enjoyed a sterling reputation as a great airline for impaired travellers, and now that it's the region's first carrier with entertainment specially for blind and low-vision flyers, it's been catapulted far ahead of anyone else.

Other special features Virgin Australia offers vision impaired travellers, that not all other airlines do, include:

  • Recognising internet discounts even for guests travelling with service dogs or who are similarly unable to book online, potentially making it a significantly cheaper option.
  • Meet and assist when you enter the airport
  • A complimentary in-flight magazine that has special features and helpful information for the hearing impaired

Naturally, it also delivers the usual features such as priority boarding, braille safety cards and more. By contrast, Qantas for example will only offer some of these where they have staff available, or only on select flights, and makes no mention of travellers being able to access online discounts, even if they have no choice but to book over the phone or over the counter.

Virgin Australia is breaking new ground with its blind and low-vision in-flight entertainment system, which no other Australian airline has, but this is far from the first move it's made towards accommodating its passengers.

It's often nice to find your favourite airline, and then stick with it when you can to maximise your rewards, and for the estimated almost 400,000 blind or low-vision Australians, Virgin Australia might be the new number one.

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