Improve Access to Air Travel for Passengers with Disabilities
Nearly 40 years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) into law. The ACAA prohibits disability-based discrimination in air travel. Four years after the passage of the ACAA, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the ADA requires disability access in airports, shuttles, and other forms of mass transportation, it explicitly does not apply to commercial air travel.

The major problem with commercial air travel continues to be that airplanes have very few accessibility features to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Unlike other forms of mass transportation which allow wheelchair users to travel while seated in their wheelchairs, commercial air travel requires power wheelchair users to have their highly customized, expensive devices stowed in the cargo hold for the flight. This leaves baggage handlers to figure out how to fit these devices into cargo holds not designed to receive or stow them. It also leaves the passengers who depend on them anxious that their device will not be returned to them in a usable condition.

We strongly believe that the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (ACAAA) (H.R. 1267/S. 545) must be included in the next FAA Reauthorization Act to improve the air travel experience of passengers with disabilities. This critically important legislation, which is supported by numerous veterans, disability, and consumer organizations, would provide safe and dignified air travel for passengers with disabilities by requiring airlines to operate airplanes that meet accessible standards and improving enforcement of the law. 

PVA Position:

Congress must include the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (H.R. 1267/S. 545) in the FAA Reauthorization Act to require airlines to operate airplanes that meet basic access standards for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair users, and increase enforcement of the ACAA. 

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