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Michele  Erwin

Michele Erwin

Founder of All Wheels Up

Biography

A former fashion merchandiser, Michele Erwin pivoted careers as she saw a need in the disability community to address the white space for true accessible air travel, which is a wheelchair spot on airplanes, as you find on buses and trains today. Michele created the not-for-profit All Wheels Up that is funding the necessary research needed to advance the conversation and prove the feasibility for a wheelchair spot on planes. Read More >

As a parent of child who uses a wheelchiar, Michele became very aware how difficult and, in some cases, dangerous for wheelchair users to travel by airplane. Based her firsthand experience Michele created All Wheels Up, which is the only organization in the world funding the research needed for a wheelchair spot on airplanes. Taking on this platform, Michele is known as a “disrupter of the aviation industry.” She has initiated a new area of study at Universities and advanced congressional and industry conversation regarding the future of accessible airtravel and plane design. Michele worked to outline the path forward from moving past advocacy efforts to funding research for a wheelchair spot on airplanes as well as creating programs to help individual passengers with disabilities stay safe during today’s standards until true accessible air travel is possible. Michele’s work made it possible for the 2018 FAA re-authorization act to be signed by President Trump with the provision for a feasibility study for a wheelchair spot for In-cabin use. Michele has been interviewed and quoted in multiple publications/media such as Aviation Week, NPR, USA Today, BBC, Yahoo Travel, Aljazeera America Magazine, The Washington Post, and other notable travel and disability blogs.

Michele was an expert witness at the first congressional House Hearing for accessible air travel, an invited TEDx speaker, National Council for Independent Living Advocacy award winner, and a two-time bronze Stevie Award winner for women in business for a not-for-profit and for Best American business – not for profit. 

Michele has inspired an industry to look to the future of not just accessible airtravel, but the future of aviation, university studies, wheelchair design. Due to her informative presentations and positive and responsible messaging, she has gained the respect of congress, the aviation industry and the wheelchair and wheelchair tie down industry. Michele is a collaborative partner understanding the concerns of industry (safety and economics) and bringing facts to her presentations regarding accessible air travel because she invested in the research. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDx: Funding the Future of Accessible Air Travel

AllWheelsUp Front and Rear Entry Proposal

Speech Topics

All Wheels Up: The Future of Accessible Air Travel

Michele’s journey into the Disability Rights Movement began when her son Greyson was born with a neuro muscular illness called spinal muscular atrophy. When her family needed to travel by plane, Michele experienced firsthand and saw the struggles of others also dealing with the difficulties of traveling with a wheelchair. She knew something needed to be done and created All Wheels Up, an advocacy and research organization that pushes for wheelchair accessible air travel and also crash tests wheelchairs for commercial flights. Michele shares her journey and mission of creating a designated wheelchair spot on airplanes, and how she has brought together key players from industry and civil rights organizations to discuss solving a basic human right.