If you are a person who needs to travel through an airport in a wheelchair, or have a family member who does, read on:
I was discussing traveling with a person who due to their disability regularly travels through airports using the airport's wheelchairs. She described to me long waits for airport personnel to arrive with the wheelchair, being stranded in the middle of an airport because the wheelchair attendant's shift was over and she walked away and delays in getting to connecting flights while waiting for attendants to arrive at one gate to transport the person to a connecting flight's gate.
I accompanied this person before at an airport while they were using the wheelchair and found the airport personnell to be pleasant and accommodating. This story shocked me. Now my eyes are opened. Protect yourself and protect your family members.
Rules to protect your rights
"The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel where needed." Preparation is important - when you make your reservations, telephone the airline and request their wheelchair reservation application. Fill it out and submit. Bring a copy with you to the airport.
"All carriers are now required to have a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) immediately available (even if by phone) to resolve disagreements which may arise between the carrier and passengers with disabilities."* If you experience difficulties at the airport, speak to staff or ask them to put you in touch with the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Prior to leaving home, find out the CRO phone number for each airport you use during your trip. CROs are available 24/7.
Your Complaints Count
By law, "carriers also must respond within 30 days to written complaints about their treatment of disabled passengers, and specifically address the issues raised in the complaints. In addition, airlines must properly code and record their disability-related complaints in connection with required reporting to the Department."** Airlines place an enormous amount of importance on the disability related complaints they receive. One major airline received under 100 in one year. How can that be? Let your voice be heard.
Please reach out to me if you need an ADA Advocate for you or your family's travel.
For more information here are two articles:
Citations to this article: