Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Friday not only warned airlines to do a better job of seating families with young children together, the agency went a step further to help protect other travelers.
Buttigieg announced a ‘Bill of Rights’ for disabled airline passengers, basically an amalgam of existing laws made more concise.
According to a story in USA Today, the articles of the ‘Bill of Rights’ includes:
– The right to be treated with dignity and respect. A valid complaint among disabled travelers is that they are often considered an after-thought.
– The right to receive information about services and aircraft capabilities and limitations. All fliers should know what is available on a plane in written format.
– The right to receive information in an accessible format. Some fliers have trouble seeing, others have trouble hearing. all information should be available in different formats.
– The right to accessible airport facilities. Having a handicapped-accessible bathroom, for instance, while waiting for a flight is important.
– The right to assistance at airports. Disabled passengers should be helped, and transported if necessary, throughout the airport journey.
– The right to assistance on the aircraft. Most airlines are quite adept at this, allowing customers in need of assistance to board first and get settled.
– The right to travel with an assistive device or service animal. That includes wheelchairs.
– The right to receive seating accommodations such as bulkhead seats. The DOT is not asking airlines to bup disabled passengers up to first class, but if something like a bulkhead set with more legroom or a place for a service animal to lie down is available, the airline should try to accommodate.
– The right to accessible aircraft features such as to stow wheelchairs, as well as a handicapped-accessible bathroom. Being able to fit inside one of the smaller-than-small restrooms, often with no grab bars, is difficult.
– The right to resolution of a disability-related issue. A passenger should have the ability of due process.
Airline and airports have been doing a better job of recognizing the needs of the disabled community, but this ‘Bill of Rights’ is a clearer set of rules for everyone to follow.