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HomeTravelU.S. Proposes New Guidelines to Ease Flying for Vacationers in Wheelchairs

U.S. Proposes New Guidelines to Ease Flying for Vacationers in Wheelchairs


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The Biden administration introduced on Thursday that it was proposing new laws for a way airways should deal with passengers in wheelchairs, an effort geared toward bettering air journey for folks with disabilities.

Below the proposal, damaging or delaying the return of a wheelchair could be an automated violation of an present federal regulation that bars airways from discriminating in opposition to folks with disabilities. The Transportation Division mentioned that change would make it simpler for the company to penalize airways for mishandling wheelchairs.

The proposed laws would additionally require extra strong coaching for staff who bodily help disabled passengers or deal with their wheelchairs.

“There are thousands and thousands of Individuals with disabilities who don’t journey by aircraft due to insufficient airline practices and insufficient authorities regulation, however now we’re getting down to change that,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg mentioned in a press release. “This new rule would change the best way airways function to make sure that vacationers utilizing wheelchairs can journey safely and with dignity.”

For folks in wheelchairs, flying could be troublesome and uncomfortable, and airline mishaps could make for an much more agonizing expertise. Greater than 11,000 wheelchairs and scooters have been mishandled by airways final 12 months, based on knowledge reported to the Transportation Division.

The proposed laws add to earlier strikes by the Biden administration supposed to enhance the flying expertise for disabled vacationers. In 2022, the Transportation Division revealed a invoice of rights for airline passengers with disabilities. Final 12 months, the company finalized new laws to require extra business plane to have accessible loos.

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former Military helicopter pilot who makes use of a wheelchair after dropping each her legs within the Iraq battle, famous that airways had beforehand fought unsuccessfully in opposition to a rule that requires them to reveal the variety of wheelchairs and scooters they mishandle. Ms. Duckworth mentioned that since airways started reporting these numbers a number of years in the past, she had seen enhancements at airports across the nation.

Ms. Duckworth, a Democrat and the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s aviation subcommittee, mentioned she hoped the proposed laws would result in the next degree of accountability for airways. However she added that Congress ought to take steps to guard the insurance policies that the Biden administration is shifting to place in place.

“This rule might be overturned by a future Division of Transportation beneath a unique administration,” mentioned Ms. Duckworth, who attended an occasion on the White Home on Thursday the place Mr. Buttigieg mentioned the brand new proposal.

On the occasion, Carl Blake, the chief government of Paralyzed Veterans of America, which had petitioned the Transportation Division to develop new laws to enhance the boarding and deplaning course of for disabled passengers, mentioned he had by no means met a member of his group who flew and whose wheelchair had not been broken at one level or one other.

Mr. Blake mentioned the issue urgently wanted to be addressed, and he emphasised the significance of utilizing the brand new laws to carry airways accountable. “A rule with no enforcement isn’t any rule in any respect,” he mentioned.

In a press release, a spokeswoman for Airways for America, a commerce group representing the nation’s largest air carriers, mentioned that airways had been making strides to enhance the flying expertise for disabled passengers by means of steps like enhancing coaching for workers.

“U.S. airways are dedicated to providing a excessive degree of customer support and offering a constructive and protected flight expertise for passengers with disabilities,” mentioned the spokeswoman, Hannah Walden.

Public feedback on the proposed laws can be accepted for 60 days. The Transportation Division didn’t specify a timeline for when the brand new measures might be finalized.

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