Can Airlines Deny Me Passage Just Because I’m Disabled?

airplane_landing_199029I’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

French Court Fines easyJet Again

Once again France has stepped in to remedy access problems caused by British budget air carrier easyJet. In response to a criminal complaint filed by Joseph Etcheveste, last month a French court fined the air carrier €60,000 for their failure to allow the plaintiff to board his 2010 flight from Biarritz. Mr. Etcheveste is a wheelchair-user who was traveling unaccompanied, and according to easyJet, that was a “security problem”. Continue reading

What Does Brexit Mean for Accessible Travel?

With Britons voting to exit the European Union, I’ve had quite a few questions about what this means for disabled travelers. And although I don’t have a crystal ball, I can see at least one area that might possibly be in line for a change – air travel. Continue reading

UAL to Implement Measures to Improve Service for Disabled Passengers

airplane_landing_199029As 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

DOT Addresses Service Animal Relief Areas and Level Boarding

Last week the Department of Transportation (DOT) amended section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to include provisions for service animal relief areas in airports, and to address the level boarding requirement for foreign air carriers. Continue reading

Cancer Patient Denied Boarding — Could it Happen to You?

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

Porky Denied Boarding

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the November 26th US Airways flight from Bradley International Airport. That was until one passenger walked down the aisle with what has been described as a very smelly a pig. According to passenger Jonathan Skolnik, the woman then proceeded to take her seat and tether the 50-70 pound animal to the armrest. Continue reading

DOT Addresses Accessible Lavatories, Service Animals and Oxygen on Airplanes

Earlier this month the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a new timeline for proposed changes to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). That announcement stemmed from their request for public comments on certain access issues in 2010. At that time the DOT asked for input on the following questions:

1.Should air carriers be required to provide non-emergency medical oxygen?

2. Should 48 hours notice and medical documentation still be required for emotional support animals?

3. Should air carriers be required to provide accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft?

4. Should airlines be required to report the number of requests they get for disability assistance to the DOT?

5. Should the scope be broadened for the types of passengers that are required to be given seats with extra leg room, and should these seats be available in all classes of service.? Continue reading