“People with mobility impairments are subject to inhumane treatment at every turn of their air travel journey…While the Department has taken important steps to address problems related to air travel for passengers with mobility disabilities, they must go farther to establish more stringent requirements for the boarding and deplaning processes – processes that can affect the health and dignity of passengers with mobility impairments. Our petition underscores just how much more must be done to improve air travel and bring it up to the level we deserve.”

-PVA National President Charles Brown and Democracy Forward President and CEO Skye Perryman

The Department of Transportation is under a continuing obligation to ensure that airlines are not discriminating against persons with disabilities, yet has failed to adequately regulate how airlines must board and deplane passengers with mobility disabilities. The current state of air travel poses significant difficulties and risks for passengers with disabilities and many of PVA’s members have experienced difficulties during the boarding and deplaning process.

On February 15, 2022, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, with assistance of Democracy Forward, petitioned the Department of Transportation to initiate rulemaking to implement improved standards and requirements for boarding and deplaning airline passengers with mobility impairments.

In its petition, PVA asks the Department, as part of its ongoing effort to comply with Section 440 of the FAA Reauthorization Act, to implement the following:

  • Mandate that carriers assign specific airline personnel who are highly trained in how to board and deplane passengers with significant mobility disabilities and provide them with properly maintained equipment to assist in the boarding and deplaning process;
  • Mandate that carriers not transfer passengers to aisle chairs until they are ready to board, or, upon arrival, until the carrier is ready to immediately transfer the passenger from the aisle chair to the passenger’s wheelchair;
  • Establish a standardized reporting process for air carriers to follow when an issue occurs in the boarding and deplaning process—regardless of whether a customer makes a complaint to the airline—including by specifying what information the airline must report or track and requiring the air carrier to make the reports publicly available;
  • Establish a timeline for air carriers to adhere to when replacing a wheelchair or other assistive device or providing compensation for the damage of such, as well as requiring air carriers to provide adequate interim accommodations; and
  • Clarify that Department regulations require airlines to return all wheelchairs and other assistive devices in the condition in which they were received.
Last Updated: March 2022