The passengers ’bill of rights lists rules for fliers with disabilities


The Department of Transportation on Friday announced its first bill of rights for travelers with disabilities.

The document does not establish any policy. This is a summary meant to help travelers “understand and assert their rights” under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and make sure airlines and airports support them. The law, passed in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan, made it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disabilities. This applies to all flights to, from and within the United States.

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“Today’s announcements are the latest steps toward ensuring an air travel system works for everyone,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news release. “Whether you’re a parent expecting to be with your children on a flight, a traveler with an air travel navigation disability, or a consumer traveling by air for the first time in a while, you deserve to be safe, accessible , affordable, and reliable airline service. ”

The bill of rights outlines 10 points, including the right to assistance at airports and on aircraft; the right to travel with an auxiliary device or service animal; and the right to receive seat accommodations, among others.

Wheelchair damage and loss often occur at airports these days. The Washington Post reported in July 2021 that the largest U.S. airlines have lost or damaged more than 15,000 wheelchairs or scooters because they need to start reporting those numbers to the government by the end of 2018.

Airlines have lost or damaged more than 15,000 wheelchairs since late 2018

Kurt Fearnley, an Australian wheelchair racer and paralympian, tweeted last week that a fellow athlete’s seat was lost on a trip to Atlanta.

“A partner came to Atlanta last week. No race chair. No day chair. That means no life for a week, ”he said tweeted.

John Morris, founder of, said the delivery of accessible services at airports was less reliable as airlines and airports coped with the labor shortages associated with the pandemic.

While the rights bill does not provide new rights for disabled travelers, Morris said it makes the ACAA more accessible to passengers. It buries lengthy regulations in an easier-to-digest format-“a format that people with disabilities can print and reference while on the trip,” he said.

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In accessible travel, “information is everything,” Morris said, adding that without knowledge of the rights guaranteed by federal law, disabled travelers are at the mercy of air carriers that don’t prioritize accessibility.

“I hope this document will lead travelers to be more demanding of proper treatment,” Morris said. “Although much more needs to be done to promote equal access to air travel.”