The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a guide for air travelers who have an intellectual or developmental disability. The guide gives tips and advice, and answers common questions about air travel.
The DOT states, “It serves as a brief but authoritative source of information for passengers with developmental disabilities as well as airlines about the services, facilities, and accommodations required by the ACAA and the provisions of Part 382.” It also includes guidance for airline staff interacting with customers who have disabilities.
Read the guide here. (PDF format)
Excerpts from the new guide:
What airline seat can you use?
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 Federal Aviation Administration (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. Not all disability-related limitations prevent people from performing these functions. The airline may ask you if your disability prevents you from performing these functions.
What animals are considered to be service animals?
Service animals are animals that assist an individual with a disability to cope with his or her disability by performing a wide variety of functions. For instance, guide dogs are used by individuals who are blind to guide them through day-to-day activities. Other types of service animals alert persons with hearing impairments to sounds, warn individuals of imminent seizures, pull wheelchairs or carry and pick up items, provide balance and support for persons with mobility impairments, and provide emotional and psychiatric support.
What should you do if you are traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal?
If you are traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal, the airline may require a letter from your doctor. You should provide the letter to the airline at least 48 hours before travel and have a copy of the letter with you on your travel date. The letter should be dated within one year of your date of travel and it should be on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor specifically treating your disability.
What should you do if you have trouble with receiving disability accommodations at the airport or on your flight?
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 airline’s 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.