In the final days of 2018, US District Court Judge John Bates dealt another blow to disability advocates, by further delaying the implementation of rules designed to track the number assistive devices damaged by US airlines. This Obama-era regulation was scheduled to go onto effect on January 1, 2018 until it was postponed another year by President Trump, under his agenda to reduce business regulations.
In an effort to move things forward in a timely manner Paralyzed Veterans of America filed suit in US District Court in July. Their argument was that since the rule was subject to five years of public comment before it was adopted, any further delay would violate the Administrative Procedure Act.
But the judge didn’t hear that argument. He simply found that the case was filed in the wrong court and he sent it to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
So what’s with all the delays? Why are the airlines dragging their feet on implementing this seemingly simple rule? I mean after all, how hard can it be to keep track of damaged wheelchairs?
Apparently it all boils down to money. at least that’s what the airlines say. This rule is part of a larger rule that requires the airlines to keep statistics on all mishandled and damaged luggage. And according to Delta Airlines, it would cost up to $10 million in new equipment, $900,000 in programming costs, and take between 18 to 24 months to implement a new tracking system.
And so the battle continues. Hopefully it will be resolved in the appeals court and then quickly implemented. After ail, we can’t address a problem unless we have valid statistics. I consider this just the first step in cutting down on airline wheelchair damage.