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Travelers using wheelchairs ask for easier access on airplanes

Earns Airbus
Posted at 11:15 AM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 14:15:09-04

Flying this summer has been challenging with delays, cancellations, and crowds. Those challenges have been "compounded" for people with disabilities who are traveling.

Corey Lee shares his experiences on social media as a resource to help other wheelchair-users when they're traveling.

"I've been nearly dropped this year. I've had my wheelchair damaged during flying a couple of times this year already and luckily, there haven't been any like major damages this year; where I got to my destination and then I couldn't drive my wheelchair, but that has happened to me in the past few times," Lee said.

A recently announced, first-of-its-kind bill of rights for travelers with disabilities aims to help. The document from the Department of Transportation doesn't establish any new rules, but it's meant to help people understand and assert their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Under the law, it's illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disabilities. Wheelchair users, like Lee, said it's a good first step.

"Access would be tremendously better if wheelchair users could just stay in their wheelchair on the plane. That's something that I am constantly fighting for," Lee said.

Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently announced he's working toward making that a reality. Past studies have shown it would be technically feasible, but more crash testing is needed.

Lee recommends immediately notifying a complaint resolution officer at the airport if you have a disability and something goes wrong when you're traveling.