French disability scheme expands worldwide

Set up in France in June 2001, the Saphir reservations number and membership card,  reserved for disabled or reduced mobility passengers, will be available in 17 other countries as from this month.The countries are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland,  Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.  Every year, Air France carries 300,000 disabled or reduced mobility people on its network. These passengers enjoy a range of adapted services tailored to make travel easier, from reservation to arrival at their destination: assistance at check-in, provision of a wheelchair at the airport, free transport of a guide dog, carriage of disabled passenger’s wheelchair free of charge in the hold, priority boarding whenever possible,  personalized in-flight service, assistance during the flight and personal welcome on arrival. Disabled or reduced mobility passengers enjoy greater autonomy in conditions of optimal comfort and safety.    At the time of booking, if the passenger wants to be automatically identified and to avoid having to provide information on his or her handicap each time they book a ticket,  they simply quote their Saphir card number which they receive free of charge, no matter how frequently they travel.  To date, over 6,000 Saphir cards have been allocated to customers residing in Metropolitan France and the French Overseas Departments.  However, this card is not required to access Saphir services. 

The high-quality Saphir services are delivered by various players in the Company:  medical departments, Exceptional Transportation Department, airport staff, flight attendants and pilots.    “The Air France Saphir service is the only one of its kind and one of our biggest achievements. Our decision to extend access to 17 new countries reflects our determination to facilitate travel arrangements and offer appropriate service for our international disabled or reduced mobility passengers, in line with strict safety requirements that may not be derogated by Air France”, said Jean-Cyril Spinetta,  Air France Chairman and CEO.  “Extending this service is a chance for Air France to give a new dimension to the Saphir brand. The brand is going international, allowing disabled or reduced mobility passengers to benefit from all Saphir services, from redestination”, indicated Patrick Roux, Head of Marketing.