to still be done
of the ACAA
of the ACAA
Carrier Access Act
For years, access to the nations air travel system for persons with
disabilities was an area of substantial dissatisfaction, with both passengers
and the airline industry recognizing the need for major improvement. In
1986 Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act, requiring the Department
of Transportation (DOT) to develop new regulations which ensure that persons
with disabilities will be treated without discrimination in a way consistent
with the safe carriage of all passengers. These regulations were published
in March 1990.
The DOT regulations, referred to here as the Air Carrier Access rules,
represent a major stride forward in improving air travel for persons with
disabilities. The rules clearly explain the responsibilities of the traveler,
the carriers, the airport operators, and contractors, who collectively
make up the system which moves over one million passengers per day. (These
rules do not apply to foreign airlines.)
The Air Carrier Access rules are designed to minimize the special problems
that travelers with disabilities face as they negotiate their way through
the nations complex air travel system from origin to destination.
How this is achieved
* By recognizing that the physical barriers encountered by passengers
with disabilities can frequently be overcome by employing simple changes
in layout and technology.
* By adopting the principle that many difficulties confronting passengers
with hearing or vision impairments will be relieved if they are provided
access to the same information that is available to all other passengers.
* Through training of all air travel personnel who come in day-to-day
contact with persons with disabilities, to understand their needs and
how they can be accommodated quickly, safely, and with dignity.
This guide is designed to offer travelers with disabilities a brief but
authoritative source of information about the Air Carrier Access rules:
the accommodations, facilities, and services that are now required to
be available. It also describes features required by other regulations
designed to make air travel more accessible.
The guide is structured in much the same sequence as a passenger would
plan for a trip: the circumstances he or she must consider prior to traveling,
what will be encountered at the airport, and what to expect in the transitions
from airport to airplane, on the plane, and then airplane to airport.
The Air Carrier Access rules sweep aside many restrictions that formerly
discriminated against passengers with disabilities:
* A carrier may not refuse transportation to a passenger solely on the
basis of a disability.
* Air carriers may not limit the number of individuals with disabilities
on a particular flight.
* All trip information that is made available to other passengers also
must be made available to passengers with disabilities.
* Carriers must provide passage to an individual who has a disability
that may affect his or her appearance or involuntary behavior, even if
this disability may offend, annoy, or be an inconvenience to crew-members
or other passengers.
Exceptions to this rule
* The carrier may refuse transportation if the individual with a disability
would endanger the health or safety of other passengers, or transporting
the person would be a violation of FAA safety rules.
* If the plane has fewer than 30 seats, the carrier may refuse transportation
if there are no lifts, boarding chairs or other devices available which
can be adapted to the limitations of such small aircraft by which to enplane
the passenger. Airline personnel are not required to carry a mobility-impaired
person onto the aircraft by hand.
* There are special rules about persons with certain disabilities or communicable
diseases. These rules are covered in the chapter entitled "At the
* The carrier may refuse transportation if it is unable to seat the passenger
without violating the FAA Exit Row Seating rules. See the chapter "On
New procedures for resolving disputes
* 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.
* Travelers who disagree with a carriers actions towa