Our previous article shared helpful tips and experiences related to accessible travel and transport. If your destination is the U.S., we recommend reading the ultimate guide to air travel with a disability, which offers valuable information and advice for individuals with disabilities who are travelling by air.
Know Your Rights
Before embarking on your travel, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience. One of the first things to consider is familiarizing yourself with the laws and rights that protect individuals with disabilities during a flight.
The act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in air travel. All domestic and international flights with the U.S. as the destination or point of departure are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, such as offering wheelchair assistance, making announcements in alternative formats, allowing service animals on board, and more.
The act is an American federal law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various areas of life, including employment, transportation, and business, open to the public.
For a stress-free air travel experience, it is recommended to inform the airline of your specific needs at least 48 hours before departure. This advance notice will allow adequate airline time to make arrangements and accommodations for you. Additionally, by being familiar with the protections provided by relevant legislation, you can confidently advocate for your rights during your trip to the U.S.
If you experience discrimination due to your disability during air travel, you have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation (DOT). You can reach the DOT by calling 202-366-4000 or making a TTY call via 7-1-1.
Choose the Right Flight
Different airlines offer a variety of special services for individuals with disabilities. Before you make your decision, confirming that the airline you choose can meet your specific needs is essential. Regardless of the airline you choose, it is best practice to directly contact the airline and inform them of any assistance you require during your reservation process.
The following list shows the contact details of popular American airlines.
We can reach out to the airline’s dedicated accessible services line at 1-800-503-0101 (TTY users can dial 711 for relay services). Alternatively, we can also contact the airline through their online help centre. Additionally, a free mobile app called Fly for All is available on both the App Store and Google Play, assisting individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities, first-time flyers, and unaccompanied minors.
We can contact the reservation centre by phone at 702-505-8888 and request assistance to be added to your reservation.
We can call 800-433-7300 or, for hearing or speech-impaired assistance, call 800-543-1586.
Please visit its website for the complete policies of special assistance.
Delta Air Lines
We can call 800-221-1212 to speak with a representative about a new or existing reservation. Their Fly Delta mobile app can show you your dedicated phone line in the Contact Us section.
For the complete Delta’s disability policies, please see its website.
We can contact the airlines by calling 801-401-9004. There is an online accessibility request form that helps you detail your additional services. They also have a page containing the complete listing of the disability policies. Please visit its website for the information.
The airline’s website features a specialised page for guests with disabilities. In addition to the phone number of 1-800-367-5320, the page can guide you to the policy page for guests with disabilities, the Traveling with Service Animals Help page, and the Emotional/Comfort/Psychiatric Support Animals Help Page.
JetBlue is one of the member airlines that have signed on to the Airlines For America Passenger Accessibility Commitment. If you have any accessibility-related concerns, call 1-855-ADA-LINE (232-5463) and ask to speak with a CRO. Their Accessibility Assistance page will also provide travellers with detailed information about their accessibility service.
With an accessible travel assistance page, the airlines list all the accessible services they provide, and you can apply for these services via the page. Meanwhile, you can also contact them at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792), TTY at 1-800-533-1305, or from uniformed Southwest Customer Service Employees at the airport.
Like most airlines, Spirit Airlines details its accessibility services on its website. And the Contact Us page allows you to reach out to someone who can help you by phone or email.
The Customers with Disabilities page on the airline’s website includes all the links and information to help you plan your trip. We can also call their Accessibility Desk at 1-800-228-2744 within the U.S. or Canada. Call the United Customer Contact Center from elsewhere and ask to be connected to the Accessibility Desk.
When searching for an airline that caters to individuals with disabilities, it can be challenging to determine the most suitable ones. A prioritised approach would be to directly contact the airlines you are considering, gather information from their websites or customer service, and make an informed decision based on their level of accessibility and special services offered.
Pack Important Items
It’s important to bring along any essential medical equipment or supplies in your carry-on bag, which ensures you have access to what you need and eliminates the potential risks associated with lost or delayed checked baggage.
Some essential documents should be in your carry-on, including your flight plan, a doctor’s note, emergency contacts, and necessary medical information.
Travel with a Companion
Having a companion during air travel can significantly enhance the experience for individuals with disabilities. They can provide essential assistance, such as lifting and transferring from a wheelchair to the seat, reducing stress and making the journey more enjoyable.
Consider arriving at the airport ahead of schedule to allow additional security screening and boarding time. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assists travellers with disabilities and medical conditions via their TSA Cares helpline, which can be reached by calling (855) 787-2227 for assistance on flights within 72 hours. For more information, visit the TSA’s procedures page for people with disabilities and medical conditions.
On Board the Plane
Boarding the aircraft is made accessible through ramps connecting the terminal to the plane’s door. Trained personnel will provide you with the necessary assistance to get on board.
Once on board, your wheelchair will be stored in a designated area and returned to you once you arrive at your destination. If you require assistance in transferring from your wheelchair to your seat, the trained cabin crew will assist you in doing so safely and securely.
The NDIS and Air Travel with a Disability
Furthermore, the NDIS funds can cover support and services deemed essential, relevant and necessary to your disability. However, it does not cover the expenses associated with recreational activities such as air travel, lodging, meals, leisure, etc. However, if a support work accompanies you, you can use your NDIS funding to pay for the supporter’s time.
It’s essential to have a transparent and open conversation with your support worker before making your air travel arrangements to ensure that any potential issues or concerns are addressed and help make your trip as smooth and comfortable as possible.
If you have any questions regarding NDIS, our NDIS Support Coordination team can assist you. They will work with you to resolve any NDIS-related concerns you may have. Additionally, our Peer Support team, who have first-hand experience with a physical disability, can also provide you with practical advice.
Air travel with a disability doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. It can be an enjoyable and stress-free journey with proper preparation and planning. Following the tips above ensures that your air travel is as comfortable and convenient as possible.
The post features practical tips originating from Upgraded Points, a few updated information and our own content. Please visit the website for the complete guide if interested.
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