Well the Department of Transportation (DOT) has certainly been busy this year; as they recently levied fines against two more airlines for non-compliance with the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
On January 27, the DOT fined Spirit Airlines $100,000 for failing to appropriately record and respond to disability-related complaints in 2009. This led to an undercounting of disability-related complaints for that year in the airline’s annual report to the DOT.
On February 15, the DOT also fined Allegiant Air $100,000 for similar violations. The Department found that in a number of instances, the airline responded to disability-related complaints by telephone, rather than in writing as required by the ACAA. The airline also failed to record all of the disability complaints it received in 2009 and 2010, or to properly categorize and account for all the issues that were raised in the complaints.
Neither airline was given a credit to offset the fine, as was typically done in the past.
“Our rules on how airlines handle disability-related complaints are designed to help us ensure that passengers with disabilities are treated fairly when they fly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to make sure carriers comply with our disability rules and take enforcement action when they do not.”
This is an important issue for disbled passengers, as it ensures that the airlines are accountable to the DOT for access-related complaints. I look for the DOT to be equally diligent in the future, which will hopefully make air travel even more accessible for wheelers and slow walkers.