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Permobil Blog / June 5, 2024

New Rule Changes Aim to Make Traveling with Disability Easier

New Rule Changes Aim to Make Traveling with Disability Easier

Traveling is an important part of anyone’s independence, and the right to do so without fear or barriers aligns with our mission of helping people with disabilities achieve more.

We believe that travel is an important part of life whether you use a wheelchair or not. It allows us to connect with people different than ourselves, broaden our worldview, and see family and friends from around the world.

That’s why we’d like to update you on the latest in advocacy and government affairs when it comes to wheelchair accessible travel. In the U.S., the Department of Transportation (DOT) is moving forward with proposed rules that would strengthen the rights afforded to people with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), enacted in 1986. This act and The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 also gives DOT the authority to update its regulations as it sees fit.

The notice of proposed rulemaking was announced on March 12, and after back-and-forth petitions between disability rights groups and airline representatives, the DOT has extended public comment until June 12. More than 1,500 comments have been left so far. You can submit a comment through the Federal Register.

These changes address definitions for safe and dignified assistance and what kind of mishandling of wheelchairs would constitute a penalty by DOT. Comments made on the Federal Register and the ACAA Advisory committee in 2021 and 2022 are being taken into consideration on these issues.

Provisions of these rule changes include prompt enplaning and deplaning and connecting assistance, notification of loading and unloading of wheelchair, prompt return of delayed wheelchairs or scooters, prompt repair or replacement of damaged wheelchair, safe and functional loaner chair accommodations, enhanced training for airline personnel and contractors, better on-board wheelchairs, better size standard for bathrooms on twin aisle aircraft, and reimbursement of fare differences if an individual must book another flight to accommodate their wheelchair.


It's important to note that some of these changes would not go into effect immediately. Part of the updated rules provide for upgraded on-board wheelchairs that would have better maneuverability, stability, and safety. If carriers purchase any new on-board wheelchairs after October 2, 2026, they will need to incorporate these changes. The final deadline for carriers is October 2, 2031.

Timing is also affected in lavatory size changes. The proposed rules aim to determine if new rules for single aisle airplanes, including the ability for two males of 95th percentile size and an on-board wheelchair to fit in the lavatory, could be added for twin aisle airplanes. However, these new single aisle rules will apply to aircraft ordered after 2033 or delivered by 2035.

If you’d like more guidance on traveling with a wheelchair today, take a look at our travel page, which has more resources on the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, a wheelchair travel checklist, and information on All Wheels Up, an organization aims to allow persons with disabilities to independently drive their wheelchairs onto planes.

Stay tuned on our social media channels and website to see when these rules go into effect and how they will impact the way you travel.

Plus, check out the latest Wheelchair Nerds podcast episode, where host Angie Kiger dives into these new rules with the United Spinal Association. 

Make travel easier


Hawken Miller
Content Marketing Specialist

Before joining Permobil as content marketing specialist, Hawken was a content strategist for the nonprofit CureDuchenne, creating blogs, emails, and social media content for the Duchenne muscular dystrophy community. For most of his life before that, he worked as a journalist, writing feature stories for BioNews, and reporting on the video game and esports beat for The Washington Post. Following his passion for writing, Hawken graduated from journalism school at the University of Southern California.

Categories: Complex Rehab, Seating and Positioning, Power, User, End User

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