Understanding The Key Aspects Of Air Carrier Access Act


The United States Government has implemented a number of laws to ensure that there is no discrimination against the people with disabilities. One of the landmark legislations in this direction is Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. It is discussed in Title 49, Section 41705 of the United States Code. The primary goal of this legislation is to ensure that air carriers do not discriminate against people who are physically challenged.

Functioning of the law
The United States Department of Transportation is required to lay down guidelines which conduct the dealings of airlines with people who are physically impaired. The law is applicable to both- US airlines as well as airlines of the other countries which operate in and out of United States.

No Discrimination Clause
According to this law, any US carrier or carrier operating in United States is not allowed to refuse transport to a person with physical impairment, subject to certain pre-defined conditions. Any act of denial of transport where none of the exceptions are applicable would be considered to be in contradistinction of the law. One of the main exceptions where the airlines may refuse transport is a possibility that by carrying such person, there is a risk to entire flight - crew and passengers included. However, such a refusal must be sent to the person in writing.

Role of Secretary and Grievance Redressal
A special secretary would be appointed as the investigating officer in cases of reported discrimination by air carrier against a person with physical disability. It is required that the secretary review all the complaints that are made against a given airline. The investigation shall be conducted, based upon the various rules and regulations that govern the conduct of air carriers in its dealings with differently able people. The findings of this secretary need to be laid on the table of United States Congress every year.

Structural Considerations
The law also makes provision for items and stowage of the belongings of people with special needs. Mobility aids like wheelchairs would be given due preference and must be accommodated within the cabin to ensure that the handicapped person does not have to depend on someone to move around..

Another important clause is that aircraft which have more than 100 passenger capacity should have favorable seats for such passengers, along with space to place a wheelchair. In case of a 60 passenger plane, a wheelchair must be provided. Design and placement of lavatories is also regulated. Twin aisle aircraft need to have easily accessible lavatories and similar guidelines are being developed by the DoT for regulating design of lavatories in smaller craft. This law also requires that people who are physically challenged should be provided appropriate accessibility facilities at all airports.

Numerous minor provisions with regard to providing information and other types of assistance to people with disabilities has also been discussed in this legislation.