Today, by a vote of 351-69, the US House passed legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Act (FAA), which includes the most transformative air travel accessibility reforms since the 1980s! Reauthorizing the FAA is a “must pass” bill and represents our best chance at making long-awaited accessibility advancements in air travel.
This bipartisan bill includes many vital reforms that will make air travel more accessible for people living with a disability. Major provisions include:
- Mandating training for airline or airport personnel who assist passengers and/or handle wheelchairs
- Strengthening the complaints process when airlines violate civil rights
- Updating Department of Transportation standards for responding to complaints about lost, broken, or damaged wheelchairs
- Setting a concrete timeline and plan to finally allow people to fly in their wheelchairs
- And much more.
"MDA is thrilled by the bipartisan House passage of the FAA reauthorization, particularly the inclusion of a number of accessibility provisions that together represent the most substantial advancements in accessible air travel in almost 40 years. If signed into law, this bill charts a specific timeline for allowing wheelchair users to stay in their wheelchairs on flights, should substantially reduce the number of wheelchairs damaged and individuals injured in seat transfers, and increases accessibility throughout the process," said Michael Lewis, MDA's Director of Disability Policy.
"We are grateful to Chairman Sam Graves, Ranking Member Rick Larsen, and our champions, including Congresswoman Dina Titus and Congressmen Garret Graves, Steve Cohen, Jeff Van Drew, and Greg Stanton for making this a reality," said Lewis.
A Victory, Years in the Making
This victory was possible because of the countless MDA advocates who raised their voices over the past several years. Advocates flew to Washington, D.C. many times to urge their members of Congress to improve air travel, including most recently in May, when 31 volunteers had 31 in-person meetings with important lawmakers.
In addition, in the last couple years, MDA advocates have sent over 11,000 messages urging Congress to make air travel accessible. There’s no doubt this victory was made possible because people joined together and made their voices heard.
What Happens Next
Today was a big victory in our effort to finally make air travel more accessible, but we’re not done yet. Now, the action moves to the Senate, which is debating its own bill to reauthorize the FAA. MDA and its advocates will not stop fighting for accessible air travel until we get a final, comprehensive, bill to the President’s desk.
You can urge your Senators to make air travel more accessible at MDA.org/AirTravel.