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FAA FACT SHEET on Air Travel by People With Disabilities



This Fact Sheet is intended to address persons with questions and concerns about the travel of persons with disabilities as it relates to airports and airlines. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, security measures have been heightened for the safety of all. While safety and security are the highest priorities, of equal importance is a smooth and safe flight process for PWD as they move through the aviation system from origin to destination.

None of the new security measures decrease the responsibility of airports and airlines to provide accessible transportation for PWD. However, everyone may experience some inconveniences and delays, while the nation adjusts to the new security reality.

Although curbside check-in has been suspended at many airports, Skycaps and other appropriate personnel are available to assist passengers (including at curbside) in transporting luggage and to assist those needing wheelchairs. Additionally, parking restrictions and pedestrian walkway modifications may present temporary difficulties to some travelers with disabilities. PWD should contact their airline and the airport well in advance of arrival to determine what revised arrangements have been made to accommodate their needs and identify any additional assistance needed. Letting the airline and the airport know in advance how they can help you will generally result in a smoother trip.

People who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices may be asked to cooperate in security searches of these devices. Just as there can be no discrimination against people with disabilities, there can be no compromise to the commitment and enforcement of safety and security standards in the aviation community.

Service animals and assistive devices such as walking canes, once inspected to ensure prohibited items are not concealed, are permitted on board an aircraft. Personal wheelchairs and battery-powered scooters may still be used to reach departure gates after they are inspected to ensure that they do not present a security risk.

For general information and inquiries on the air traveler with a disability the following web sites, e-mail addresses and contacts have been identified:

· For airline or airport problems, contact the Customer Relations or Consumer Affairs office of that airline or airport.

· U.S. Department of Transportation e-mail address to register your concern about airline service when experiencing air travel service problems concerning accommodations or services that must be provided to passengers with disabilities.

· Federal Aviation Administration web site for general information for the air traveler with a disability.

· Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information Line of the U.S. Department of Justice regarding general or specific ADA requirements including questions about ADA Standards for Accessible Design. One can obtain free ADA materials or information about filing a complaint. (800) 514-0301(voice) or (800) 514-0383(TDD).

· Violations by private businesses and non-profit service providers (e.g., concessionaires) regarding public accommodations and commercial facilities.

While we are hopeful that the new security procedures will not have a negative impact on your flying experience, we realize that things do not always go as planned. As an air traveler with a disability, if you feel that you have been treated in a discriminatory manner and in a way inconsistent with the safe carriage of all passengers, you may file a complaint against the airline or airport owner. Complaints, on disability matters, should be filed with the following:

· Complaints and concerns against airlines regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities in providing air transportation should be directed to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division (C-75)
Office of the Assistant General Counsel
for Aviation Enforcement And Proceedings

Department of Transportation,
400 7th Street, SW, Room 4107
Washington DC 20590

· Complaints and concerns against an airport operator/owner regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities in providing services at the airport or in airport programs should be directed to:

The Office of Civil Rights
Federal Aviation Administration
Room 1030, 800 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20591

· Complaints and concerns against privately owned businesses serving the public on the airport property, regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities and, complaints against privately owned airports, on the basis of a disability should be directed to:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section,
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738

We are hopeful this Fact Sheet will assist you in making your travel experience a smooth and enjoyable one. However, should the need arise for reasons noted above, please contact one of the agencies listed for prompt attention to your concern. The FAA continues to be serious about its commitment to fair treatment for all persons using the air transportation system in the United States.

Prepared by FAA
Office of Civil Rights
Posted November 29, 2001