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New DOT rules to make flying easier for passengers with disabilities

New DOT rules to make flying easier for passengers with disabilities

At DOT, we believe that all airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly when they fly. And we’ve been hard at work introducing consumer protections to ensure equal access to hassle-free transportation for all air travelers.

Today as part of that ongoing effort, we announced a new rule requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.

A separate rule provides airlines with more flexibility in how they transport manual, folding wheelchairs onboard, making it possible for them to carry up to two wheelchairs in the cabin. 

Photo of man in a wheelchair using an accessible airport ticketing kiosk

Today, many consumers book airline reservations online and check in by using airport kiosks; however, airlines and airports have not consistently made their websites and kiosks accessible to people with disabilities.

Within two years of the new rules, all covered airlines are required to make pages of their websites that contain core travel information and services accessible to persons with disabilities. Within three years, all of their web pages must be accessible. 

Photo of man at computer with service dog by his side

In addition, covered airlines and airports that install automated kiosks at U.S. airports for services such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags must ensure that all new kiosks they install are accessible to passengers with disabilities until at least 25 percent of all kiosks at each airport location are accessible. 

The website accessibility requirement applies to U.S. and foreign airlines that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers and have websites marketing air transportation to U.S. consumers for travel within, to, or from the United States. The kiosk accessibility requirements apply to U.S. and foreign airlines that own, lease, or control automated kiosks at U.S. airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements. It also applies to U.S. airports that jointly own, lease, or control with carriers automated kiosks at U.S. airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements.

Photo of woman in a wheelchair on a beach celebrating her access to the ocean

Today’s announcement also provides airlines with the option to transport passenger wheelchairs by strapping them across a row of seats, which will require them to transport two wheelchairs in the cabin if requested and if the second does not displace any passengers.  Airlines may instead choose to use a closet, which only holds one wheelchair, to stow the assistive device, but must give it priority over luggage.

It’s simple: All air travelers should enjoy equal rights before, during, and after their flights – regardless of any disabilities they may have. 

These new rules are just one more way that the Obama Administration is helping ensure that our air transportation system, which is second to none, is accessible to all.

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And we need to require that airlines DO NOT change the seat assignment of a disabled passenger without having asked the passenger first!
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