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Airline Passengers Disabilities Rules Rights Medical Conditions

Passengers with Disabilities or Challenged Abilities
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Medications and Conditions TSA

Disability related items permitted through the security checkpoint include: (Always check for updates)

About the Air Carrier Access Act:

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel. The Department of Transportation has a rule defining the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines under this law. This rule applies to all flights of U.S. airlines, and to flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. The following is a summary of the main points of the DOT rule (Title 14 CFR Part 382).

Prohibition of Discriminatory Practices

Airlines may not refuse transportation to people on the basis of disability.

Airlines may exclude anyone from a flight if carrying the person would be inimical to the safety of the flight. If a carrier excludes a person with a disability on safety grounds, the carrier must provide a written explanation of the decision.
Airlines may not require advance notice that a person with a disability is traveling. Air carriers may require up to 48 hours advance notice for certain accommodations that require preparation time (e.g., respirator hook-up, transportation of an electric wheelchair on an aircraft with less than 60 seats).

Airlines may not limit the number of persons with disabilities on a flight.

Airlines may not require a person with a disability to travel with another person, except in certain limited circumstances where the rule permits the airline to require a safety assistant. If a passenger with a disability and the airline disagree about the need for a safety assistant, the airline can require the assistant, but cannot charge for the transportation of the assistant.
Airlines may not keep anyone out of a specific seat on the basis of disability, or require anyone to sit in a particular seat on the basis of disability, except to comply with FAA or foreign-government safety requirements. FAA's rule on exit row seating says that airlines may place in exit rows only persons who can perform a series of functions necessary in an emergency evacuation.

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Accessibility of Facilities

New aircraft with 30 or more seats must have movable aisle armrests on half the aisle seats in the aircraft.
New twin-aisle aircraft must have accessible lavatories.
New aircraft with 100 or more seats must have priority space for storing a passengers folding wheelchair in the cabin.
Aircraft with more than 60 seats and an accessible lavatory must have an on-board wheelchair, regardless of when the aircraft was ordered or delivered.
For flights on aircraft with more than 60 seats that do not have an accessible lavatory, airlines must place an on-board wheelchair on the flight if a passenger with a disability gives the airline 48 hours notice that he or she can use an inaccessible lavatory but needs an on-board wheelchair to reach the lavatory.
Airlines must ensure that airport facilities and services that they own, lease or control are accessible in the manner prescribed in the rule.

Other Services and Accommodations

Airlines are required to provide assistance with boarding, deplaning and making connections. Assistance within the cabin is also required, but not extensive personal services. Where level-entry boarding is not available, there must be ramps or mechanical lifts to service most aircraft with 19 or more seats at U.S. airports with over 10,000 annual enplanements.

Disabled passengers items stored in the cabin must conform to FAA rules on the stowage of carry-on baggage. Assistive devices do not count against any limit on the number of pieces of carry-on baggage. Collapsible wheelchairs and other assistive devices have priority for in-cabin storage space (including in closets) over other passengers items brought on board at the same airport, if the passenger with a disability chooses to preboard.
Wheelchairs and other assistive devices have priority over other items for storage in the baggage compartment. Airlines must accept battery-powered wheelchairs, including the batteries, packaging the batteries in hazardous materials packages when necessary.

The airline provides the packaging.

Airlines must permit a passenger to use his/her Portable Oxygen Concentrator during the flight if it is labeled as FAA-approved. Airlines may not charge for providing accommodations required by the rule, such as hazardous materials packaging for batteries. However, they may charge for optional services such as providing oxygen.
Other provisions concerning services and accommodations address treatment of mobility aids and assistive devices, passenger information, accommodations for persons with vision and hearing impairments, security screening, communicable diseases and medical certificates, and service animals.

Administrative Provisions

Training is required for airline and contractor personnel who deal with the traveling public.
Airlines must make available specially-trained 'complaints resolution officials' to respond to complaints from passengers and must also respond to written complaints. A DOT enforcement mechanism is also available.
Airlines must obtain an assurance of compliance from contractors who provide services to passengers. You may obtain an accessible electronic copy of 14 CFR Part 382 or call DOT at 202-366-2220 to request a copy.

Travel with Service Animals (Including Emotional Support Animals)

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support. Documentation may be required of passengers needing to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal.

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Things to Know

Which service animals are allowed in the cabin?

A wide variety of service animals are permitted in the cabin portion of the aircraft flying to and within the United States; however, most service animals tend to be dogs and cats.
Airlines may exclude animals that:
Are too large or heavy to be accommodated in the cabin;
Pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
Cause a significant disruption of cabin service; or
Are prohibited from entering a foreign country.
Note: Airlines are never required to accept snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders, and spiders.

How do airlines determine whether an animal is a service animal?

Airlines can determine whether an animal is a service animal or pet by:
The credible verbal assurances of an individual with a disability using the animal;
Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags;
Requiring documentation for psychiatric support animals and emotional support animals; and Observing the behavior of animals.

Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals - Airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for service animals that are emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

What kind of documentation can be required of persons travelling with emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals?

Airlines may require documentation that is not older than one year from the date of your scheduled initial flight that states:
You have a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM);
You need your emotional support or psychiatric support animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination;
The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his/her professional care; and
The licensed health care professionals;
Date and type of professional license; and
Jurisdiction or state in which their license was issued.

Tips for Traveling with a Service Animal At the airport

If your animal needs to relieve itself, please ask an airport or airline professional for the location of the nearest service animal relief areas.

Onboard the aircraft

Your animal must be permitted to accompany you in the space under the seat in front of you.

Certain small animals may be permitted to sit on your lap, if it can be done so safely.
Your animal cannot block a space that must remain unobstructed for safety reasons (ex. an aisle or access to an emergency exit).
An airline is not required to upgrade you to a different class of service to accommodate your animal.
Airlines cannot refuse to allow your animal onboard because it makes other passengers or flight crew uncomfortable.
Your animal must behave properly. An animal that engages in disruptive behavior (ex. barking or snarling, running around, and/or jumping onto other passengers, etc. without being provoked) will not be accepted as a service animal.
For a flight that is scheduled for eight hours or longer, airlines may require documentation stating that your animal will not need to relieve itself, or can do so in a sanitary way.

Traveling outside of the United States?

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning to fly outside of the United States with your service animal.

Foreign airlines operating to and from the United States are only required to accept dogs. U.S. airlines traveling to foreign countries are subject to the requirements of that foreign country regarding acceptance of service animals; not all countries permit service animals from other foreign countries.
Check to ensure whether your destination country permits your animal and any other requirements to enter and exit legally.

Encounter A Problem?

If you believe your rights under the Air Carrier Access Act are being or have been violated, ask to speak with a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). A CRO is the airlines expert on disability accommodation issues. Airlines are required to make one available to you, at no cost, in person at the airport or by telephone during the times they are operating.

Air Travel with Service Animals Brochure

The Transportation.Gov tri-fold brochure provides a printable overview of service animal qualifications, the acceptance criteria for any documentation, and other helpful information.

Service Animal Tips and Information for Your Cell Phone

View our digital content that discusses service animal qualifications, the acceptance criteria for any documentation, and other helpful information.
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Credit and Information to:

More Information on Disabilitiies at transportation.gov

Your Rules and Rights - DOT.gov - Download PDF

Developmental Disabilities Guide at Transportation.gov - Download PDF

Guidance for Airline Personnel on Non-discrimination with Air Travelers DOT.gov - Download PDF


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