Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Accessible Air Travel

For those of us living with a progressive disorder, accessible air travel becomes more of an issue over time. My last job required quite a bit of travel in the United States and Canada. Long lines, the distance to the gates, waiting, changing planes, more long lines, the distance to baggage claim—I think you get the pointhad me worn out even before I even visited out customers, warehouses and mills. And, I'm not going to even mention the plane's tight seating, and bathrooms.

Once I had a nasty fall while exiting a plane. More than once I fell because of fatigue after arriving at the destination. In short, airlines are really not set up to accommodate those of requiring special needs when traveling.  

The update below from the MDA shows that some progress is being made in this area.

Accessible Air Travel Update

MDA has been working closely with a diverse set of stakeholders that include policy makers, advocate groups, industry and MDA families to support increased accessibility to air travel.  Thank you to everyone who contacted your U.S. Senators to urge their support for the disabled passengers provisions contained in the Senate version of the FAA reauthorization bill.  These provisions would call for 1) studying the use of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems, 2) identifying best practices in airport accessibility, 3) examining training policies regarding assistance for disabled air travelers and 4) creating an advisory committee with diverse stakeholders to investigate and report to Congress on the needs of passengers with disabilities.

The bill passed the full Senate with overwhelming support (vote 95 to 3) - with allfour of the disability provisions intact.  Two amendments pertaining to enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act were offered, but were not included in the final version of the legislation.

The next step is for the U.S. House to take action.  We will follow up with additional information on how you can take action as the legislative process moves forward.  Additionally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently convened the first meeting of the Accessible Air Transportation Advisory Committee (ACCESS) in Washington, D.C. to address three issues impacting accessibility: 1) lavatories, 2) service animals and 3) in-flight entertainment.  The committee will consider all three issues in the coming months, and we will provide updates and summaries about this effort as it progresses.  If you are interested in learning more about the accessible air travel initiative or are planning air travel in the near future, check out MDA'sAccessible Travel Resource Center.

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