I’ve been getting a fair share of mail from travelers who booked an accessible room at a US hotel, but then arrived to find that the room had been given to another guest. Basically the all ask me “How can we get hotels to actually save the accessible rooms for people who need them?”
Believe it or not, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires properties to block accessible rooms upon reservation. Blocking means that a specific room is set aside for a specific guest on a specific date. It is not the same as “guaranteeing a room” which merely guarantees the guest a specific rate.
Unfortunately there are hotels out there that do not block their accessible rooms. So what’s a traveler to do?
First and foremost, call the property and ask if they block their accessible rooms upon reservation. If they say no, or that they guarantee the room, or they just hem and haw, choose another property. It’s just not worth the hassle. You should also file an ADA complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) . That goes double if you happen to arrive at a property and they don’t have the accessible room you reserved.
Additionally, if you reserved an accessible room with a roll-in shower and you arrive to find that they only have an accessible rooms with a tub/shower combo left, they did not block your specific accessible room. Again, when a room is blocked it takes a specific room out of inventory. So you should file an ADA complaint if this happens to you.
To be clear, you won’t get any compensation from the property when you file an ADA complaint, but it will help effect change. The DOJ can fine the property, and when properties start to get fined, that gets their attention. This is the only enforcement mechanism we have for the ADA, and it’s relatively simple to file a complaint online.
Just go to https://www.ada.gov/complaint/ and fill in the blanks.
If your room isn’t blocked, you do have this recourse, so remember to take it!!