Flight Plan

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News May 2018

People with disabilities continue to encounter problems while flying, and PVA remains dedicated to improving their air travel experience.

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Access to air travel is the primary complaint from Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) members and others with disabilities. Despite the passage of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) in 1986, people with disabilities often encounter poorly trained airline personnel and contractors, inaccessible aircraft, problems with broken and damaged wheelchairs and even bodily harm. The ACAA is a civil rights law. However, access in the air travel industry has failed to keep pace with the advances made in other forms of transportation. Not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, airplanes don’t include many of the accessibility features that some of us might take for granted in city buses, subways and trains. During the 31st anniversary of the ACAA in 2017, PVA launched a survey on the air travel experiences of passengers with disabilities. Questions addressed a wide variety of issues, including damage to wheelchairs, service animals and seating assignments.

Telling Survey Answers

One of the most telling set of answers in the survey was to the question: How many times have you flown commercially in the last five years? The following are a sample of responses from people who answered that they haven’t flown during that period:

“I cannot risk them breaking my wheelchair.”

“Heard many horror stories of air travel with a wheelchair.”

“I always end up with pressure or skin issues.”

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Flight Plan


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