Although the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, air travel continues to be riddled with unnecessary challenges and individuals with disabilities still face discrimination and obstacles when flying—even 30 years later.
The number of complaints by disabled passengers made to the Department of Transportation rose by 157 percent in 2020 alone (Data from the Government Accountability Office). In November of 2022, 941 wheelchairs and scooters of disabled travelers were mishandled by airlines. Americans with disabilities deserve better.
A new bill introduced by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-III) and Deb Discher (R-Neb) will move towards increasing transparency around issues and problems faced by disabled air travel passengers. The bill would require the Department of Transportation to publicly release annual reports on disability-related complaints and incidents, including how quickly each complaint was initiated for review and resolved or addressed. This comprehensive report would include any complaint from mistreating disabled passengers or mishandling their accessibility equipment, to any other form of mistreatment that they may face from staff members throughout their air travel process.
Chair of the Aviation Safety Subcommittee, Tammy Duckworth, expressed his commitment to “helping ensure air travel is as safe and convenient as possible for every traveler—including Americans with disabilities.” He is confident that the new bipartisan bill would shine light on all the disability-related complaints that have been ignored over the years, making sure that the millions disabled passengers are treated as they deserve: with respect and dignity at every stage of their travels.