The Friendly Skies

Advance preparation can help make the flight friendlier!

It’s officially Spring - a favorite time of the year for many. Spring signals new growth, warmer weather, and longer days. It’s a time that many begin to think about and plan for vacation and the air travel that entails. Whether for business or pleasure it’s good to know your rights when traveling as a person with a disability or if traveling with a person who has a disability.

While the ADA generally applies to the physical airport, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is the predominant law that applies to all things on the airplane. For example, if a customer has a service animal in the airport, the ADA under Title II or Title III (depending on whether it is a private or public airport) will apply. Once the service animal is on the plane, the ACAA now takes precedence. Each airline company has information on its website regarding accessibility. It is suggested that a passenger check that information out for each flight they take, as there may be differences in what is required.

Here are some suggestions from the American Association of Retired People (AARP) when traveling with accessibility needs:

  1. Request assistance in advance.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport.
  3. Be vocal at check-in.
  4. Speak up at the security checkpoint.
  5. Request a ride to your gate, if needed.

Traveling does take a lot of planning, so be prepared! Here are several helpful resources to assist travelers with disabilities.

*The Southwest ADA Center has this handbook that describes the differences between the ADA and the ACAA. 

*The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides the TSA Passenger Support website. Also, TSA CARES at 855-787-2227.  

*The Denver airport has partnered with the Sunflower Lanyard Program, to support passengers with hidden disabilities.   

*The U.S. Department of Transportation provides information on Traveling with a Disability, and who to contact if you encounter a problem

*There is even an Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights!

*And don’t forget to check with the airline you are traveling with for specific information. 

Happy travels!