Air Travel Rights
Transportation from one place to another can be a major obstacle for some people with disabilities. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodations should be made to enable individuals with disabilities the same access to transportation services as the general public. In this section you will find information on air travel, public transit, and other issues surrounding your rights and transportation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has a toll-free hotline for disabled air travelers, available seven days a week. The Hotline exists to inform air travelers with disabilities about their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act. It also provides information about resolving real time or upcoming issues with air carriers. For information visit the Aviation Consumer Protection Division home page
Air Travel Rights
The Air Carrier Access Act passed by Congress in 1986, states that people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against when traveling by air. This act addressed the many barriers faced by people with disabilities and improved air travel for all passengers. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), all airline carriers, except foreign airline carriers, must provide accommodations, services, and timely information for people with disabilities.
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
On this page under the New Horizons section, there is information for travelers with a disability. Airport Assistance.
If You Have a Hearing Disability
Airports use visual information designed to help with navigation on the Departure, Arrival, and Information screens behind all gate counters. Inform an agent about your hearing disability to ensure that you will be notified about important information.
If You Have a Vision Disability
An agent will assist you to the ticket counter or to your gate. When making your reservations, inform the airlines that you will be needing assistance or speak to an airport representative on site.
If You Have a Mobility Disability
If you are in a wheelchair, will need a wheelchair or other mobility assistance at your destination or connecting city, advise the airport agent. Although not required, advance notice and confirmation of arrangements help airline carriers to provide timely service.
Airport Electric Carts
Some airports have electric carts to assist customers in covering distances quickly. Some airports may also have a shuttle or tram that operates continuously from one end of the airport to the other.
Airport Courtesy Wheelchair Assistance
Some airports have electric carts to assist customers in covering distances quickly. Airport courtesy wheelchair service is available to transport you to your departure gate. You may arrange wheelchair assistance in advance when making your reservation. You may also request assistance at the airport. Many airlines advise you to check your wheelchair through to your final destination. You may arrange to claim your wheelchair in a connecting city; however this takes additional time and may compromise your ability to make your connection.
Pre-boarding assistance is provided prior to general boarding.
Braille Safety Cards: For travelers who have vision disabilities, safety briefing cards are available in Braille and large print formats.
Captioned Safety Video: For travelers who have hearing disabilities, it is a standard practice for aircraft safety briefing videos shown before or during takeoff to have open captioning
Stowing Carry-on Items: Assistance in loading and retrieving carry-on items and small assistive devices is provided upon request.
Onboard Wheelchair: Flight attendants will provide assistance to passengers who need help in using an onboard wheelchair to get to the aircraft lavatory. Passengers must be semi-ambulatory and able to transfer themselves in and out of the wheelchair, or have a personal care attendant to assist them.
Back to Top
Many aircraft have movable aisle armrests and accessible lavatories. These movable aisle armrests enable a person with a disability to move in and out of a seat. All wide-body (two aisles) aircraft have at least one wheelchair accessible lavatory onboard. All Boeing 737 aircraft have two accessible lavatories.
Service animals are permitted to travel without charge. Proper documentation or credible verbal assurance is needed to document that the service animal is trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. A service animal must occupy the floor space where the passenger sits and cannot obstruct an aisle or area that must remain clear for emergency evacuation. Quarantine laws may apply to certain destinations and it is the traveler's responsibility to ensure compliance with all entry regulations.
Security measures have been heightened at many airports around the world. For more detailed security information visit the Transportation Security Administration
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board amends the guidelines for over-the-road buses in order to ensure that they meet the standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It provides technical requirements for lifts, ramps, securing wheelchairs, and moveable aisle armrests.
Federal Transit Administration
The Federal Transit Administration is an office of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This website provides information on nondiscrimination issues as well as accessibility specifications for transportation vehicles.
Back to Top