We’ve already reached the end of October, which means that the holiday season is about to begin. Over the next two months, from Thanksgiving through New Years, millions of people will be travelling all over the world to see their loved ones. It can be a fun, often hectic time of the year for most people, but it can also be a bit scary. With stories of people who use wheelchairs having to crawl off airplanes making headlines, the prospect of travelling by air can be a bit daunting for people with disabilities.
You Can’t Always Travel by Car
Although there are many types of handicapped vehicles available that can get you from place to place, sometimes it is necessary to board a plane in order to visit family and friends who live across the country. If you or a family member have a disability and need to travel by air this holiday season, these tips can help make your travel plans flow smoothly.
Look to the ACAA
In 1986, the US Congress passed the Air Carrier Access Act, which made it illegal for airlines to discriminate against people who suffer from physical or mental disabilities. It also put into place certain rules and regulations that airlines must follow in order to make air travel accessible for all of their customers.
These rules guarantee that airlines cannot violate your rights as a paying customer and air traveler. They also inform you of the accommodations that airlines must provide to you during the course of your travels.
You can go to the Department of Transportation’s website to see the full text of the law.
What the Act Guarantees
According to the ACAA, air carriers cannot “exclude a qualified individual with a disability from or deny the person the benefit of any air transportation or related services that are available to other persons, even if there are separate or different services available for persons with a disability…”
Airlines are also prohibited from requiring advance notice of travel from wheelchair users (unless you have an electric chair or require the use of oxygen while on the plane). It is also not necessary to travel with an attendant except for a limited number of special circumstances.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
You don’t want to miss your flight, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get through airport security. The TSA has certain pat down procedures and alternate screening techniques that they can use for people with disabilities.
Just know that you can request a private screening and one must be given to you in time for you to catch your flight. Also, if you pass through the standard security system without activating it, you cannot be subject to additional screening procedures.
Travel can be hectic, but as long as you are prepared and know your rights, you can make it to your destination safely and with as little trouble as possible.
Do you have any travel insights to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments below.