Man in wheelchair waiting in airport

Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights

People with disabilities face many challenges when flying on commercial airlines. Planes are not always built to provide easy movement for those with disabilities, and airline staff and other passengers do not always treat these passengers with respect. Additionally, airline delays and cancellations disproportionately impact people with disabilities.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, which guarantees certain rights to airline travelers with disabilities. Learn more about these rights and how they may apply to you.

What Is the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights?

The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights is a regulation that clarifies the protected rights of people with disabilities traveling on commercial airlines. It does not expand the rights of travelers with disabilities, but rather summarizes existing laws, making them easier to access in one place. That way, airlines and passengers with disabilities can easily review these fundamental rights, ensuring travelers with disabilities are treated with dignity and empowering them to take action if they are mistreated.

Who Is the Bill of Rights For?

The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights is for travelers with disabilities. According to DOT, the document applies to anyone with a “physical or mental impairment that permanently or temporarily impacts a major life activity such as walking, hearing, or breathing.”

Furthermore, it applies to all flights operated by airlines in the United States and flights traveling to and from the U.S. on foreign airlines. Thus, it is essential for all airline companies and their staff to be familiar with the existing laws contained within the Bill of Rights. 

What Does the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights Consist Of?

There are ten core principles outlined in the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. Those principles are:

  1. The right to be treated with dignity and respect – An airline may not discriminate against an individual with a disability because of their disability.
  2. The right to receive information about services and aircraft capabilities and limitations – Airlines must provide information to travelers with disabilities about the services and accommodations available on their flights.
  3. The right to receive information in an accessible format – Airlines must provide accessible equipment and services, including in the airport and online.
  4. The right to accessible airport facilities – Airlines must maintain accessible terminals and facilities in the airport.
  5. The right to assistance at airports – Passengers with disabilities have a right to be assisted by trained airline personnel at airports.
  6. The right to assistance on the aircraft – Passengers with disabilities have a right to be assisted while boarding and deplaning an aircraft.
  7. The right to travel with an assistive device or service animal – Airlines must allow passengers with disabilities to travel with assistive devices or service animals.
  8. The right to receive seating accommodations – Airlines must accommodate the seating needs of passengers with disabilities.
  9. The right to accessible aircraft features – Aircraft delivered to U.S. airlines after April 1992 must be equipped with accessible features.
  10. The right to resolution of a disability-related issue – Airlines must make available a complaint resolution officer (CRO) within a timely manner.

For more detailed information on these rights, you can read the full text of the Bill of Rights online.

Contact Our Michigan Disability Attorney for More Information

The attorneys at the Disability Law Group are committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities throughout Michigan. Contact our office today to speak to a Michigan disability attorney. 

Author: Erika A. Riggs

Attorney Erika A. Riggs graduated from Wayne State University where she earned her bachelor\’s and law degree. During law school, Erika devoted her free time to public service, education, and mentorship. She co-founded a non-profit, The 313 Project, providing scholarships for at-risk youth, pro-bono legal advice as well as volunteer work in Detroit. She also served as a senior note and comment editor of the Wayne Law Review, property law teaching assistant, and small claims court mediator.