Come on DOT – Let’s Talk ESAs!

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airplane window

Well it happened again last month – another emotional support animal (ESA) misbehaved on a flight. This isn’t news, as it seems to be the norm these days. Pretty much anyone can go online and purchase “ESA credentials” so they can fly free with their pets. Just google “emotional support animal credentials” and you’ll get a listing of what I call “card mills” that – for a price — provide certificates, vests and other accessories that will allow your dog to accompany you anywhere. Continue reading

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Win a Stay at Tenaya Lodge!

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Yosemite Falls

If you’ve ever visited Yosemite National Park, then start flipping through your photos to find an entry for the “Dream Yosemite Adventure” photo contest. And the best part of this contest is that it’s easy. All you have to do is submit a favorite Yosemite photo – there’s no limit on how old it can be – and you don’t have to beg friends to share, like or comment on the photo. Continue reading

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Quads Need Medical Clearance to Fly Aer Lingus

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airplane window

Although we take certain access related rights for granted in the US, that’s not always the case in other areas of the world. Take air travel for example. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, US airlines can’t require a medical certificate from a passenger just because he or she happens to use a wheelchair. Continue reading

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Traditional Roundhouse Under Construction in Yosemite National Park

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It’s been a long journey for the MiWuk people in Yosemite National Park, but it appears that things are finally moving forward on the construction of their traditional roundhouse on national park land. And the site is particularly significant, as it’s where their Wahhoga Village was once located, before the National Park Service leveled it in 1969. Continue reading

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Loaner Trackchair Now Available at Michigan National Lakeshore

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Many national parks have free loaner wheelchairs, and a few even have sand or beach wheelchairs, but as of May 2019 a loaner trackchair is now available at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (https://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm). This unique project was made possible by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, who purchased an Action Trackchair (http://actiontrackchair.com) last August, and subsequently worked with the National Park Service to implement a program that allows wheelchair-users and slow walkers to explore some of the more rugged areas of the national lakeshore. Continue reading

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IATA Passes Accessible Air Travel Resolution

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Early last month the The International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved an accessible air travel resolution at their 75th Annual General Meeting in Seoul, South Korea. The resolution calls upon governments to follow IATA’s core principles for accommodating disabled passengers, and hopes to bring the travel sector together with regulators in order to provide consistent air travel access regulations throughout the world. Continue reading

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Eagle Lift Not Allowed on Southwest Flight

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I’m sure you’ve probably read about the “Jon Morrow Incident” on Southwest Airlines, as quite frankly, it’s been all over the internet. Mr. Morrow, who has a fused spine and brittle bones, tried to fly unsuccessfully on Southwest Airlines last month with his Eagle Lift. Although the Eagle Lift is used to transfer wheelchair-users to their airplane seats in some parts of the UK, Canada and Australia, it’s not the norm – or even required — in the US.

Originally Southwest told Mr. Morrow that he could bring his lift so his aides could use it to transfer him to the airline seat, but the airline subsequently informed him that he would not be allowed to use and transport his Eagle Lift. The airline instead offered him the use of the aisle chair, which is standard in the US.

Was the airline wrong in doing this?

Well the airline was wrong for initially telling Mr. Morrow that he would be allowed to bring and use his Eagle Lift; but legally I think they are on firm ground for their final decision. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are required to provide boarding assistance that includes “boarding wheelchairs an/or on-board wheelchairs”. They did offer Mr. Morrow that type of  boarding assistance, and there is no requirement for the airline to allow passenger-provided equipment such as the Eagle Lift.

It’s true that other airlines use the Eagle Lift for boarding, but I’m sure they’ve never had a request to transport one, as Mr. Morrow himself stated, “I’m the only individual in the world who owns one.” I expect Southwest’s big concern was in their their ability to safely transport this $15,000 piece of equipment without damaging it.

According to Southwest Airlines, “In this instance, the customer was informed that we do not have boarding procedures for the safe use of his personal Eagle Lift device, nor do our employees have training for storage of the device. This final decision was made after reviewing the device’s specifications and the requirements for transporting it and the customer safely.”

I’m sorry this happened to Mr. Morrow, but Southwest was within their right to not allow the Eagle Lift on board.

On the plus side, something positive may come out of this, as Southwest also said that they are “in contact with the manufacturer of this device to learn more about the device’s unique handling and storage requirements.” So who knows, maybe things will change in the future, and they will voluntarily allow the use and transport of this device. But like I said, for now, they are operating under the letter of the law.

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Westchester Lyft Lawsuit Moves Forward

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In what appears to be a move to skirt the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) last month, rideshare giant Lyft claimed once again that it is not in the transportation business, and therefor is not not subject to the ADA. They further alleged that they are instead in the information business. Continue reading

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