Legal Changes and More in Travel

By Kennedy, Andrea | Palaestra, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Legal Changes and More in Travel


Kennedy, Andrea, Palaestra


As of May 13, 2009, the DOT adopted major amendments to the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA) 14 CFR Part 382 that has already affected how people with disabilities (PWD) travel on national and international levels. From general access to service animal relieving areas, airlines and airports alike have been scrambling to make the adequate changes in the allotted one-year deadline, since the changes were released. The ACAA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in commercial air transportation along with its implementing regulation, 14 CFR Part 382. The fine for not following these new regulations: $27,500 for each instance.

These new amendments apply to both U.S. and foreign carriers and also cover airport accessibility and changes to common services such as flight reservations, as well as passengers who use respiratory assistive devices and passengers with sight and hearing disabilities.

The new regulations can be viewed here: http://airconsumer. ost.dot.gov/rules/rules.htm to update yourself regarding your rights and also of potential airline violations while traveling, which include but are not limited to: general access and universal design at all airports, as well as in on-line and over-the-phone reservations; the right to one folding manual wheelchair to be stowed on board the aircraft; safe and damage-free transport of your medical and mobility equipment; board-first privileges and prompt deplaning; approved oxygen devices now allowed on board; extra baggage allowance; and appropriate handling of service dogs.

The biggest change is the inclusion of foreign carriers in this legal coverage. In the past, many Americans have had stories of denied boarding on foreign soil (to their domestic airline) because of unknown, and often outdated laws. Now, any "code sharing" foreign carrier landing on or taking off from U.S. soil is subject to 14 CFR 382. Any damaged equipment must be replaced, and any fines for violations of the ACAA will be doled out in that amount for each and every violation. This is the first time in U.S. history that there is a legal enforcement associated with one of our disability laws. This doesn't mean these effects will happen immediately, so make sure you make every preparation possible if you're traveling internationally this summer or fall. Also, make sure you know your rights this summer, after the May 13th deadline and look for some positive changes to the airline industry. And remember, if your rights are violated, contact the airport's Complaints Resolution Officer (CRO), which all foreign airports are now required to have, as well.

Baggage on Airlines

Another airline change this summer to watch is the baggage allotment battle. All bags are free on Southwest, you will be charged $15 on American and many other airlines for one, and $25 for the second.

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