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above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less
Around the global world there is now an
awareness that the need of access for those with disabilities must be a prime
goal both in design of public buildings and redo of city streets, as well, in
every facet of life.
For example, disability mandates extend
to psychological and health issues requiring a service dog to accompany the
disabled person everywhere, even aboard an aircraft—large over-size dogs now
must be accepted by owners of large apartment building or condos, also in gated
I was flummoxed, then dismayed when I
rec0ently took an inbound flight from Rome to JFK on Alitalia and discovered there
was a change of aircraft, but my disability did not qualify me for a seat equal
to the confirmed aisle seat I had chosen months earlier.
Even more puzzling, when I was
recovered from my recent flying ordeal, I researched the European Union’s criteria
for airlines carrying persons with disabilities and filled out a complaint regarding
the regulation that seemed to apply—I was informed that the regulation did not
apply in my case.
When I contacted the FAA’s legal
department and related my complaint to one of their lawyers—that’s when I found
out why the European Union said my situation did not apply—the FAA’s lawyer
told me that when there is a change of aircraft, airlines are not required to
inform the passengers, and not legally required to find a seat equivalent to
the original confirmed seat.
I was still confused and could not
believe that airlines had no legal liability if there was a change of aircraft
and confirmed seats were not honored, so I called the Department of
Transportation’s consumer help line (1-855-368-4200) and left a message—within a
few hours I received a return phone call. Very carefully, and in great detail I
was given the reason why a change of aircraft absolves airlines from
considering persons with disabilities when new seats are assigned in place of
the previously confirm seat. Yet it made no sense to me that a
computer driven overlay of seats for the changed aircraft allows airlines to disturb
the travel plans of disabled passengers, reassign seats regardless of inconvenience,
or worse, cancellation of trip.
In fact, the Department of
Transportation’s view is “make a plan B” for such an event” which might include
asking for another flight, even if the
delay is more than a day, but he also indicated that a call to “your
congressman” would help to revise the Disability Act by adding airlines to the transportation
mandatory compliance regardless of change of aircraft.
As well, you can file a consumer complaint
against the airline which is available on the **Department of Transportation
website, the airlines are required to respond to your complaint and the Dept.
monitors the list to determine what airlines are frequent offenders.
If you are disabled, and there is a
change of aircraft that requires you to cancel your trip, you can file a
complaint with the *ADA affiliated with the AG of the United States—on the ADA
website you will see posts of complaints that were filed against Greyhound and
others settled with an agreement to insure persons with disabilities can travel
like everyone else.
Be an activist, call AAPD (American
Association of Persons with Disabilities) to ask how you can help to make
airlines conform to requirements for persons with disabilities regardless of
change of aircraft.