UPI reports today that American Airlines plans to “makeover” its fleet of 757-200s. In addition to new interior furnishings and some video upgrades, they plan to replace the on-board closet with two first class seats. OK, I can understand the need for more revenue — passengers pay but their coats don?t — but where the heck are they going to put the manual wheelchairs?
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, air carriers with more than 100 seats must provide storage space in the on-board closet for one manual wheelchair. Now granted a few carriers don?t have on-board closets and they have been dinged for their lack of wheelchair-storage space by the Department of Transportation.
Take Jet Blue for example. After several passenger complaints to the DOT, JetBlue admitted they had no wheelchair storage space but agreed to create some by blocking a row of seats, so one wheelchair could be stowed atop three seats.
I don?t know about you, but that doesn?t sound real safe to me. Additionally one of the reasons you want to keep your wheelchair in the cabin is so that it won?t be knocked around and damaged in the baggage compartment. This seat storage solution sounds like an accident waiting to happen. I?m sure it won?t take much for the wheelchair to end up on the floor; and for what it?s worth, they don?t bounce well.
A friend suggested that there is room for wheelchair storage behind the last row of first class seats, but that would prevent the seats from reclining. That just doesn?t seem like a logical solution to me. After all American is adding these seats to increase revenue, and what fool would buy a first-class seat that doesn?t recline?
So what are they going to do? It might be worth looking into before you book your next American flight.