Air Carrier Access Act

Are Attendants Required for Disabled Passengers?

Air Carrier Access Act - Kingsley & Kingsley, CaliforniaIn general, the Air Carrier Access Act and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Rules prohibit air carriers from requiring disabled persons to travel with an attendant. Air carriers may, in certain situations, require an attendant accompany the traveler:

  • an individual traveling on a stretcher or in an incubator, for flights where such service is being offered;
  • a traveler that is unable to comprehend or respond appropriately to safety instructions from carrier personnel because of a mental disability;
  • an individual with a mobility impairment in which the person is unable to assist in his or her own evacuation from the aircraft; or
  • a traveler who has both severe vision and hearing impairments that prevent the individual from receiving and acting on necessary instructions from carrier personnel when evacuating the aircraft during an emergency situation.

When a carrier and a person disagree about the applicability of one of these criteria, the carrier may require the person to travel with an attendant. However, the carrier cannot charge for the transportation of the attendant in this case.

Carriers are not required to furnish attendants to travelers. However, if a carrier chooses to furnish attendants, the carrier may do so in a number of ways. The carrier may designate an-off duty employee who happens to be traveling on the same flight to act as the attendant. The carrier or the person with a disability may seek a volunteer from among other passengers on the flight to act as the attendant. The carrier may provide a free ticket to an attendant of the person’s choice for that flight segment.

The attendant is not required to provide personal service to the person with a disability other than to provide assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation.

If there is not a seat available on the flight for the attendant, and, as a result, a person with a disability holding a confirmed reservation is denied travel on the flight, the person with a disability is eligible for denied boarding compensation. For the purpose of determining whether a seat is available for an attendant, the attendant shall be deemed to have checked in at the same time as the person with a disability.

If you have questions or if you would like additional information, please contact us.

About the Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel.   The Department of Transportation has a rule defining the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines under this law. This rule applies to all flights of U.S. airlines, and to flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines.  Visit this site for more information and a summary of the main points of the DOT rule (Title 14 CFR Part 382).