Beyond the Influencer Hype

Christiane Link
3 min readMar 2, 2024

Why Influencer Marketing in transport and aviation linked to accessibility backfires

The blog post didn’t last long after the disability community on X (formally Twitter) saw it. The company behind the contentious Passenger Assist app of the British railway industry, Transreport, published an article on their website by an influencer about “How to advocate for yourself on public transport” as a disabled person. The advice included “tips” like “keep some energy in reserve” and “consider your posture”.

Disability Twitterati wasn’t amused, to say it mildly. Where should the additional energy come from? Why can’t disabled people use public transport without considering their posture? Nobody would expect that from non-disabled people before boarding a train.

More and more transport and aviation companies use disabled influencers to promote accessibility and reach the disabled community. It is only rarely successful, however and not always transparent.

Exaggeration and lack of transparency

Some influencers exaggeratedly praise the essential assistance provision — a legal right of disabled passengers in aviation and railway for decades. Sometimes, it’s not even clear if this is a paid ad, if there is a business relationship between the company and the influencer or if this (often newly disabled) person is really that excited to be able to use public transport or an airport.

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Christiane Link

Passionate about accessibility in rail, transport and aviation. German Londoner with two passports, wheelchair-using geek.