A Better Flight Plan


U.S. Airlines Reaffirm Commitment to Accessible Air Travel

October is National Disability Employment Awareness month as well as the 37th anniversary of the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA). Throughout the month, U.S. airlines are affirming their progress in improving air travel accessibility for passengers with disabilities. A4A passenger airlines are committed to offering a high level of customer service for all travelers, including those with mobility, cognitive or social disabilities. Our carriers have long been engaged in a range of initiatives to increase air travel accessibility for all passengers, especially those with disabilities.

Additionally, October 18 marks the one-year anniversary of A4A’s Passenger Accessibility Commitment, a pledge made by A4A and our passenger airline CEOs to take additional steps to improve accessible air travel. The commitment identified four key areas for improvement:

  • Establishing a passenger accessibility advisory group within our airlines to work directly with the disability community to improve our policies and operations;
  • Improving passenger transfers and the handling of personal mobility aids; 
  • Enhancing our accessibility services training for frontline workers and educating our employees about passengers with disabilities; and
  • Supporting the continued study and development of safe and feasible aircraft accessibility features that broaden air travel opportunities for passengers with disabilities.

One year later, airlines have made significant progress in those key areas – and they continue to invest in improvements for all passengers, including those with a disability. These passenger improvements have been made through a wide range of initiatives, making air travel more accessible from ticket purchase to touchdown. For example, some carriers are adding braille to the aircraft cabin interior of their entire fleet. Similarly, carriers have made significant investments in their in-flight entertainment options and many carriers have added closed captioning to their entertainment viewing options.

Recently, an airline announced new technologies that will soon allow passengers with mobility aids to enter the dimensions of their wheelchairs so they know what aircraft can accommodate the size of their chair on some airlines. Through innovation and technology, another carrier also created the first of its kind airplane seat that could allow customers who use powered wheelchairs to remain in their chairs for the entire journey. These are just a few examples of the myriad ways carriers have followed through on their commitment to addressing challenges those with disabilities face throughout their air travel journey.

Not only are A4A passenger members investing in the passenger experience, but they are also committed to providing their employees with the necessary education and training to help improve accessibility services. Many carriers are providing additional training opportunities for team members both online and in-person.

A4A and our member airlines also participated in the Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee to help create an Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. Although progress has been made, we recognize there is still work to be done. Our industry is committed to continuing work with industry stakeholders, the disability community, aircraft and mobility manufacturers and safety regulators to explore safe solutions that reduce barriers for passengers traveling with disabilities.

For more information on the industry’s accessibility efforts, visit airlines.org/accessibility or click on our member airlines’ accessibility pages below:

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