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Programs & Services > Allowances > Frequently Asked Questions > Persons with Disabilities Using Commercial Airlines For Travel

Persons with Disabilities Using Commercial Airlines For Travel
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: 01 October 2014

  1. Where will I find information for the Air Traveler with a Disability or Special Need?
  2. Where do I file a complaint as an Air Traveler with a disability or special need related to commercial airlines travel?
  3. Where do I find TSA information for the Air Traveler with a Disability/Special Need?
  4. Can I upgrade to premium-class accommodation because coach seating does not accommodate my disability or special need?
  5. My disability/special need condition requires an attendant/escort when I perform official travel. Is this possible?
  6. Can I be directed to use a common air carrier if my disability/special need is affected by flying?
  7. Is an eligible traveler authorized an accompanied service animal on the airline?

1.  Where will I find information for the Air Traveler with a Disability or Special Need?

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) effective 5 April 2000, prohibits discrimination against a passenger who is disabled or who has special needs in air travel and requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of these passengers.  ACAA responsible agencies - DOT for air travel compliance/information and DOJ for ACAA violations.

Website information:

a.  DOJ - Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (information)

b.  DOT Aviation Consumer Protection Division - Air Travel Service Problems section (compliance)

c.  Civil Rights Air Accessibility (compliance/information)

d.  DOT - Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability (information)

e.  FAA - Passengers with Disabilities (information)

2.  Where do I file a complaint as an Air Traveler with a disability or special need related to commercial airlines travel?

DOT Aviation Consumer Protection Division is responsible for air travel compliance involving air carriers.  Complaint forms are available at: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/forms.htm.

3.  Where do I find TSA information for the Air Traveler with a Disability/Special Need?

Refer to the TSA website.

4.  Can I upgrade to ‘other than economy/coach’ accommodations because coach-class seating does not accommodate my disability or special need?

‘Other than economy/coach’ accommodations may be used due to a medical disability/special need only when there is no alternative means to accommodate the traveler's condition (e.g., bulkhead, aisle seating, use of two adjoining coach-class seats, etc).  The condition must be certified by competent medical authority (i.e., a licensed medical practitioner) and authorized in advance of travel IAW Agency/Service regulations.  See JTR, par. 3520 and App H4A.

Certifications validating the disability or other special medical needs are effective up to six months or the duration of the disability or special need, whichever is shorter.  A medical disability/special need described as a lifelong condition requires a certification statement every two years from a physician (JTR, App H4A and App P2C).

5.  My disability/special need condition requires an attendant/escort when I perform official travel.  Is this possible?

Yes.  A competent medical authority must appoint the attendant.  

An escort must be appointed by:

a.  Competent authority,

b.  The traveler’s AO, or

c.  The member's commanding officer

IAW Agency/Service policy (JTR, App A1 definitions).

The appropriate authority, not the traveler, determines the need for an attendant or escort.  See JTR, Ch 7, Parts B and D, and App E1, par. A2l for additional attendant/escort travel and transportation allowances.

6.  Can I be directed to use a common air carrier if my disability/special need is affected by flying?

A civilian employee is not required to travel by air if using the air transportation mode is medically inadvisable.  This 'exemption' to using air travel is not limited to physical disability/special need; however, an advance written medical determination is necessary to support use of an alternate transportation mode.   See JTR, par. 3500-D.

7.  Is an eligible traveler authorized an accompanying service animal on the airline?

Yes, psychiatric service animals are authorized to accompany an eligible traveler IAW 14 CFR §382.117for emotional support, IAW the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Domestic air carriers are required to transport emotional support animals with the disabled passenger, without cost, provided it does not obstruct the aisle or exit spaces.  The passenger must provide the proper documentation signed by a licensed mental health professional treating the passenger for a diagnosed DSM IV mental or emotional disability.

 

     
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