Traveling with a Wheelchair: The Air Carrier Access Act
If you're looking to travel this holiday season to visit loved ones, you can rest assured knowing you'll be able to fly with your wheelchair (and even your Hoveround Power Wheelchair or Mobility Scooter) relatively easily — thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act. The 1986 law prohibits discrimination on commercial airlines due to mental or physical disability and allows for provisions to make such travel easier for individuals with wheelchairs: In the airport, boarding the plane, and while on the plane.
The Air Carrier Access Act makes it easier for those in a wheelchair to travel by plane (just as Hoveround makes mobility easier getting to the plane and everywhere in between!).
Here are some of the Ways the Air Carrier Access Act Makes Air Travel Easier:
In the airport
Wheelchairs don't count as luggage. No matter the airline, any assistive devices do not count against any limit on the number of allowable pieces of carry-on baggage.
Airports must be accessible. That means there are elevators, wider aisles, etc. to allow wheelchairs to get through the terminal to and from the gate.
Airlines must help with boarding. Employees must provide assistance with boarding, deplaning and making any connections — and there must be ramps or mechanical lifts if there is not level-entry boarding.
Boarding the plane
Particular seating can't be required. An airline can't require passengers with disabilities to sit in certain seats; however, the passengers sitting in an exit row must be able to perform evacuation procedures so this row won't be available.
Bringing an attendant can't be required. However, if a passenger isn't able to evacuate from a flight, the airline may require an attendant for the passenger (but if so, the airline must cover the cost of the attendant's seat).
No charge for disability-related accommodations. However, if you're flying on an aircraft with fewer than 60 seats, an airline can ask that you provide 48 hours advance notice to allow for accommodations including respirator hook-ups or storing your Hoveround Power Wheelchair.
Wheelchair storage in front and priority storage. As long as the plane has 100 seats, your wheelchair will be stowed near the front of the plane. Plus, assistive devices have priority for storage before other items.
Motorized wheelchairs are allowed. The power wheelchairs are permitted in baggage compartments, and all airlines must accept the batteries of battery-powered wheelchairs. If necessary, the airline is responsible for providing the packaging for the batteries if they are deemed hazardous materials.
On the plane
Accessible bathrooms. We all know airplane bathrooms are known for being tiny but there still must be at least one that is accessible (in newer planes with 100 or more seats).
On-board wheelchairs. If a plane has 60 or more seats, it must have a wheelchair on-board for use up and down the plane aisles if you give the airline 48 hours advance notice.
Service animals are allowed. However, they can't block any areas impacting FAA safety regulations.
To file a complaint
If you feel an airline did not abide by the rules detailed in the Air Carrier Access Act, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (or bring a lawsuit against the airline in Federal court). For more information or to file a complaint, contact: