Air travel poses challenges for people with disabilities, organization leading the fight for change asks the public to help

Post Date: November 14, 2019
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Paralyzed Veterans of America urges the public to support their fight
to ensure safe and accessible air travel for all.

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2019)  Paralyzed Veterans of America is alerting the public to the challenges people with disabilities commonly face during air travel and asking for support of their efforts to ensure accessible air travel for all. This call to action comes as the busiest travel time of the year begins.

PVA has long been at the forefront of air travel accessibility. Now, the organization calls on Congress to pass legislation requiring accessible design standards that would include a path of travel for people with disabilities onto airplanes and improve enforcement of passenger rights for travelers under the Air Carrier Access Act with a private right of action. Furthermore, we urge airlines to increase training of their personnel and contractors to assist passengers with disabilities during the boarding and deplaning processes.

“The way things are now, flying with a disability is a danger,” said Charles Brown, national senior vice president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Earlier this year, I was injured when being transferred from a wheelchair to an aisle chair to board a plane for a cross-country flight. And again, when transferring to my seat. I ended up with a fracture that led to a serious infection, months in the hospital and follow up visits. If there were more standards and training for staff assisting passengers with disabilities, this would not have happened.”

PVA is asking the public to support their fight for equal accessibility for all people by signing up to learn how to help and take action at

“This is a matter of basic civil rights for all people with disabilities to have safe and reasonable accommodations in airports and on airplanes,” said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “PVA has been leading the charge, but now we need everyone’s help. We are on a mission to create a world where independent living is a reality for everyone. By supporting our efforts, the American public is showing lawmakers that accessible air travel is an important issue that demands action.”

Although progress has been made, there are still glaring problems. The 1986 Air Carrier Access Act aims to ensure people with disabilities receive consistent and nondiscriminatory treatment when flying. Unfortunately, travelers still encounter significant barriers such as damaged wheelchairs, delayed assistance and lack of procedures and training for airline staff. These obstacles are not only inconvenient and takes away their dignity, but can cause serious injuries.

This is why PVA supports the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S.669 / H.R. 1549), which would improve aircraft accessibility for all people with disabilities and enforcement of passenger rights under the Air Carrier Access Act.

PVA was instrumental in the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, which includes a “bill of rights” and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, revised TSA screening procedures for people with disabilities, and required reporting by large domestic airlines to the Department of Transportation (DOT) the number of wheelchairs and scooters they enplane and subsequently mishandle. PVA has also taken legal action against the DOT for their ongoing delays in issuing a proposed rule that would address lavatory accessibility on commercial single-aisle aircraft.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four Americans report having a disability and the majority of those are mobility related. This statistic, coupled with an aging population, makes accessibility a widespread issue.

Learn more and sign up for air travel accessibility news at