The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released a “notice of intent” to explore the feasibility of conducting a negotioted rulemaking in regards to several items covered under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Basically they are testing the waters to see if there is enough public interest in updating certain parts of the ACAA to improve access to air travel for disabled passengers.
More specifically the DOT is exploring the possibility of addressing these issues:
- Ensure that the same in-flight entertainment available to all passengers is accessible to passengers with disabilities;
- Provide individuals dependent on in-flight medical oxygen greater access to air travel consistent with Federal safety and security requirements.
- Determine the appropriate definition of a service animal.
- Establish safeguards to reduce the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets will be able to falsely claim that their pets are service animals.
- Address the feasibility of accessible lavatories on new single aisle aircraft.
- Address whether premium economy is a different class of service from standard economy as airlines are required to provide seating accommodations to passengers with disabilities within the same class of service.
- Require airlines to report annually to the Department the number of requests for disability assistance they receive and the time period within which wheelchair assistance is provided to passengers with disabilities.
Public comments are being accepted regarding these issues until January 6, 2016. You can submit them at http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOT-OST-2015-0246-0011
What should you say in your comments?
Well if you’ve ever had to suffer through a flight on a single aisle aircraft, because you couldn’t use the lavatory, I heartily encourage you to tell the DOT your story. In this day and age we have the technology to equip single aisle aircraft with accessible lavatories, and that requirement certainly should be added to the ACAA.
And if you feel strongly about any of the other issues, chime in on those too. Making a comment won’t guarantee that the DOT will address the issue, but remaining silent may send the message that these issues don‘t need to be addressed.
So make your comments today. It only takes a few minutes. Let the DOT know what you think about airline access.