September 25th 2018
KAGOSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Japanese airlines will start offering up to a 50 percent discount on domestic flights to travelers with a mental disorder, sources said Tuesday.
A total of 10 air carriers, including Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co., decided to expand the scope of special fares to include people who are suffering from disorders such as depression, epilepsy and autism, in addition to those with physical and intellectual disabilities.
The decision comes after the enforcement of a new law aimed at improving treatment of people with impairments.
It is the first time that airlines in Japan have introduced a special discount for people with mental disorders, according to the transport ministry.
The JAL group will start accepting reservations for the discount on Oct.4, while other airlines plan to implement the new policy as early as January next year.
Under the new system, the discount fare is also available to a caregiver traveling on the same flight as a person in possession of an official welfare document certifying their condition.
A similar discount program has already been introduced by some railway, bus and ferry companies following the enforcement of the 2016 law for eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities.
Noriaki Yamakawa, 79, who heads a nonprofit organization supporting people with mental illness in Kagoshima Prefecture, welcomed the airlines’ new policy, saying it would help them travel more widely and integrate into society.
Until now, the airline companies limited special fares only to travelers with physical and intellectual disabilities.