Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
A common misconception is that the rights of individuals with disabilities when traveling by air are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. While the ADA ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all forms of ground transportation, air travel is specifically left out of the legislation. Instead, air travel is covered under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) of 1986 which, although preventing some forms of discrimination, offers less protections than the ADA.
So, what’s the difference between the ADA and the ACAA?
- The main difference between the two is that the ACAA does not grant a private right of action. This means that individuals whose rights are violated cannot go to court for a remedy but instead must work with the airline’s customer service and the Department of Transportation. This makes it more difficult to seek redress and thus discourages action against airlines when they discriminate or when they damage assistive devices.
- In addition, whereas a wheelchair space is required on buses, trains, and ships, such a space is not required on aircrafts. See our efforts to amend the ACAA to offer more protections on the Our Efforts tab.
However, you are still granted many rights through the ACAA and it’s important to know them before traveling. The website WheelchairTravel provides a summary of the ACAA including a list of your rights, which you can find here. Do you feel that your rights were violated on a recent flight? Report the incident by filing a complaint with the DOT.
Wheelchair Handling Forms
Below you will find links to wheelchair handling forms that will provide airline personnel with important information about your device. After filling out the form, you must attach it to your wheelchair or assistive device to ensure that it is treated properly when loaded/unloaded from cargo. This is a great way to prevent unnecessary damage to your device. If the airline that you are traveling with is not listed below, that is because they currently do not have a printable wheelchair form. Don’t worry – you can fill out one of the forms below and cross out the other airline logo on the top.