Disabled Person at an Airport Pedestrian Intersection
10 Jan

How Are Airports Becoming More Accessible to People with Impairments?

When the United States passed the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), it became illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers who had an impairment. The law applies to any airline that provides air transportation to, from, or within the United States. Not only does this law cut down on discrimination, but it also requires airlines to provide assistance for passengers, such as a wheelchair, guided assistance for all areas of boarding, or seating accommodation.

Airlines Step Up Accessibility

Proper disability training can make a huge difference for airlines when they take the time to train their employees to serve passengers with impairments. Some airlines have considered hiring people with disabilities to further improve their services to individuals that live with impairments. These steps will help airlines comply with the law but also become more accessible.

Airlines can distinguish themselves in how they take care of passengers with impairments in many ways. A few services that airlines are beginning to offer:

  • Providing the option to wear a lanyard or wristband that allows airport personnel to recognize an individual who may need additional assistance during their travel.
  • Offering disability awareness training to employees who work with passengers, whether in ticketing, security, or flight.
  • Using a special security lane that offers a less stressful experience to families and those with disabilities.
  • Creating public information with video and picture guides to help passengers with disabilities know what to expect when traveling by air. 


Airport ADA / Accessibility Travel Tips

While airlines are working to become more accessible to people with impairments, passengers can take steps to make sure that they are aware of their options within the airport. After all, sometimes all it takes is to just ask. These airport travel tips will help passengers with impairments take full advantage of airline accessibility.

1. When planning your travel, outline your limitations and needs. Specify what type of assistance you will need, whether you want wheelchair services or another type of transportation.

2. Plan ahead for the type of restrooms that will be available, not only in the airport but also on the airplane. You can call to ask questions about the airline.

3. Check into boarding procedures. Some airlines provide pre-boarding or will offer assistance or an alternate route if the jetway won’t work for you.

4. Airplane seating is challenging for the most seasoned traveler. Consider which seat would work best for you in a row—that probably means avoiding the emergency exit row as well.

5. Notify the airline and flight attendants about your assisting devices so they can be stored safely.

6. Depending on your impairment, consider hiring a travel nurse to ease the traveling process for you. 

7. Wait until you have your assisting device before exiting the airplane. 

8. Always carry medications and backup prescriptions with you on the airplane, as well as any other necessary medical paperwork. 

Beware of Surprise Costs
Airlines have different standards for what they offer to passengers with disabilities. In fact, some airlines charge extra for providing more assistance to passengers. Therefore, you should check into what the airline standards are for assisting passengers with disabilities. You don’t want to be hit by a surprise cost or a sudden change in what was promised.

Airports need to become more accessible to individuals with impairments. Not only does the law require it, but as a society, we are must provide more options for all people.