DOTLogoThe 25th Anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act, which “prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments” , was celebrated by the Department of Transportation on November 19, 2011.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was enacted in 1986 and has broken barriers to air travel for people with disabilities. Airlines must provide the following on their aircrafts: movable aisle armrests, accessible restrooms, storage space for folding wheelchairs, and an onboard wheelchair.Airlines must provide boarding and deplaning assistance, and medical and mobility equipment takes priority over other onboard items and items in the baggage department. There is no cost for onboard items needed for mobility or medical needs and these items do not count towards the onboard luggage limits.

Airport accessibility is also covered under the ACAA. With the implementation of the American Disability Act in 1990, even private airports must comply as well as those funded by the government.

It was noted during the event, that the ACAA has made significant improvements in air travel accessibility, but that more needs to be done. The DOT is specifically asking for airlines’ web sites and kiosks to be made accessible. They are requesting public comment on this proposal and requesting information on in-flight entertainment accessibility, travel with service animals, and accessible lavatories one single-aisle aircraft and more from the public.


There are some exceptions to the ACAA. One in particular is an airline’s right to request a passenger with a disability fly with an attendant. Airlines must have a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) available on site or by phone for any disputes that may come up. One website that provides information on the Air Carrier Access Act, including a summary of the act is Accessible Journeys. You can also find the link to the full Act on the US Department of Transportation website.

Connie Roberts is a professional blogger who makes it her mission to advocate for people with medical issues. Travel with a disability is not a struggle, but an opportunity to see the world and let others see that it’s possible and a lot of fun. Tweet with her @ConnieFoggles.