The world’s tallest woman takes her first flight after the airline modified several seats

The world’s tallest woman takes her first flight after the airline modified several seats

(CNN) – Romesa Gilji, the world’s tallest living woman, recently boarded a plane from her native Turkey to San Francisco.

However, it wasn’t just a trip. This was the first of its kind in Gilji, which highlighted the growing interest in accessibility.
Gilji, 25, is 7 feet tall and 0.7 inches tall. Its pedigree is caused by Weaver’s syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes overgrowth of bone. She’s been a Guinness World Record celebrity since her teens, holding records in several size-related categories, including the longest toes on a living person and the longest back on a living female.

Gilji travels regularly to share her story, and uses her warm wit to spread body positivity on social media. However, despite her international standing, she had never flown on an airplane before. Like many people with Weaver’s syndrome, Gilgi uses mobility aids to get around, and the long journey requires special accommodations for her exceptional frame.

But in September, Gilji finally flew into the sky. In an Instagram post a few weeks later, she shared photos from her Turkish Airlines flight, which became possible after airlines removed several seats on the plane so that Gilgi could rest comfortably on a stretcher during the 13-hour flight from Istanbul to Istanbul. California. .

“Flawless journey from start to finish,” Gilji said on Instagram, praising Turkish Airlines staff and medical personnel for their work. Gilji said that although it was her first flight, “it certainly won’t be her last.”

In her photos, Gilji appears to be getting VIP treatment, chatting with the smiling staff on board and enjoying a first class meal.

Gilji, a computer programmer and public attorney, says she spends her time in San Francisco working with Guinness World Records.

CNN has reached out to Turkish Airlines and Guinness World Records for comment.

Making air travel easier for everyone

Gilji’s recent flight highlights the growing awareness of airline accessibility for people with physical differences and disabilities. Historically, air travel has been inconvenient at best for these travelers, and at worst, abusive and painful.
CNN spoke to Linda Restagno, assistant director of foreign affairs for the International Air Transport Association, which sets global standards for air travel. Ristagno, who recently received an Open Disability Access Professional Award from the Open Doors Organization for her work, described the kinds of global and structural efforts underway to improve accessibility for all travelers.

“We are keen to ensure that all passengers enjoy the freedom to travel by plane, and we expect standards [among participating airlines and airports] To be consistent so that the same level of assistance can be provided to everyone.”

Restagno says the recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency, produced a landmark decision that will better allow different parts of the industry to work together to improve accessibility.

“This decision encourages governments to collaborate with airlines, disability organizations and all actors, including travelers with disabilities, to come up with solutions,” she said.

One of the biggest priorities this decision can help with is the principle of ‘universal design’, where accessibility is incorporated into the buildings structure and the mechanisms themselves, rather than treated as an addition or modification.

Additionally, Restagno says that industry groups and government institutions are also trying to improve infrastructure and procedures for transporting mobility aids such as motorized wheelchairs — a pain point especially when it comes to accessible travel.

“The challenges that airlines face in the safe loading and storage of mobility aids are few and have been designed with air transport in mind,” she explains. “This becomes more difficult as the mobility aid increases in size, complexity and weight. There is a risk of injury during transport and risk of damage to the device.”

By looking at the problem from all angles, air travel groups such as IATA and ICAO and participating parties can explore long-term solutions, including design improvements that allow easier navigation in airports and on planes, and even tailored mobility aids. better.

“There is an inherent drive to raise standards, as these passengers represent a growing segment of demand for air travel,” Restagno said. “Disability is also a medical term. But accessibility is a social term. We want to make sure we are accessible to everyone.”

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