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. Continue reading
Although travelers in the US are used to the protections that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) affords them in this country (and on flights to and from the US), that’s not how it works on foreign soil. In fact, I routinely get reports of wheelchair-users who were unceremoniously denied boarding at airports throughout Asia. Such is the case of Kaushik Majumdar, who recently tried to board an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata.
Notice, I said “tried”.
According to reports of the incident Majumdar was told at check-in that he would have to remove the dry-cell battery from his power wheelchair and transfer to a manual wheelchair at the gate. After he did this, he was also informed that he would have to disconnect all of the wires that ran to the battery case. Being leery about his ability to properly reconnect the wires, and concerned about possible damage to his wheelchair, he refused. And then Air India refused to accept him as a passenger.
Should this have happened? Well no it shouldn’t have, but it did. And although in the US, the ACAA prohibits the removal of non-spillable batteries that are appropriately marked and installed, that’s not the way it works with Air India.
So this is just a little heads up if you happen to have India on your bucket list. Tread lightly with Air India, as they don’t appear to be “power-wheelchair friendly”. And no matter where you travel, check with the airline to see what their policies are regarding the stowage of assistive devices before you buy your ticket. A little advance research could possible save you a whole lot of heartache – not to mention a ruined trip. In this case, forewarned is definitely forearmed!
I’m getting a lot of questions this week in regards to Mark Smith’s recent incident with American Airlines. Smith is a power-wheelchair-user who was on his way home from Abilities Expo in Southern California, when a gaggle of American Airlines employees boarded the aircraft and informed him that they needed to remove him from the airplane because of “captain’s orders”. So he was transferred to an aisle chair, and taken back to the jet bridge, and was later transported on another American Airlines flight. Continue reading
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole”, and in a sense that’s exactly what Air France tried to do. Earlier this year, wheelchair-user Gordon Aikman tried to fly from Edinburgh to Paris with his husband for their honeymoon. Unfortunately his plans were quashed two days before departure when Air France informed Aikman that they could not transport his power wheelchair because it was too tall to fit into the hold. Continue reading
As the result of a consent decree executed on Jan 7, 2016, United Airlines (UAL) is required to invest $650,000 to improve their services for disabled passengers. The decree resulted from an investigation of passenger complaints of a failure to enplane, deplane and transfer wheelchair-users in a timely manner at Houston International Airport , Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Newark International Airport, and Dulles International Airport. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Sometimes knowing the finer points of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) can make the difference between having a trouble-free flight, and literally being left at the gate. Such was the case for Jerremy Lorch, a wheelchair-user who was recently denied boarding on an Air Canada flight to Toronto from the Greater Rochester International Airport. Continue reading
Although some news sources have reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently “revised” their regulation on service animals, they have instead clarified regulations that have been on the books for many years. Early this week the DOJ released “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA” a user-friendly technical assistance document that answers many commonly asked questions about service animals. The publication stems from questions posed to the DOJ and provides guidance on the ADA’s service animal provisions. Continue reading
Elizabeth Sedway was having a nice family vacation in Hawaii — that is until she attempted to board her Alaska Airlines flight home to California.
You see, Sedway has multiple myeloma, and like many other people who have compromised immune systems, she wears a surgical mask in crowded public places, like airports. She also opted to preboard the flight, and according to her recollection of the incident, she told the gate agent that she felt “weak”. Both of these actions are perfectly normal under the circumstances, but they also set off a chain of events that eventually got the Sedway family unceremoniously booted from their flight. Continue reading