JetBlue Update

And now a quick update on JetBlue v. the DOT.

As you may recall, several months ago Jet Blue applied for an exemption from the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) on their newly ordered Embraer 190 jets. Under the ACAA, aircraft with 100 or more seats must provide in-cabin storage space for at least one wheelchair; but according to JetBlue the 100-seat Brazilian built Embraer jets lacked that required space. JetBlue instead proposed that all wheelchairs be stowed in the forward cargo section of the aircraft.

Many disability rights groups openly opposed this exemption, citing the main reason for in-cabin wheelchair storage was to avoid damage that often occurs in the cargo bin.

The DOT subsequently denied JetBlue’s exemption.

Earlier this week Jet Blue began taking delivery of the new Embraer jets. Although they have not been reconfigured in order to provide closet space for wheelchair storage, JetBlue now reports that they will be able to stow one manual wheelchair in the passenger cabin, against the bulkhead at seats 1C and 1D.

JetBlue has firm orders for 101 Embraer 190s and options for 100 more through 2016, so look for bulkhead wheelchair storage to be the norm on this carrier. A good thing to keep in mind if a JetBlue flight attendant says there is no room in the on-board closet for a wheelchair!