US Government Working On New Rules To Protect Travelers With Wheelchair

The USDOT has proposed new restrictions to protect wheelchair-bound airline customers.  

According to, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the updated laws were meant to hold airlines and airports liable for wheelchair damage. 

The new rules also apply to wheelchairs not returned to their owners in a timely fashion.

The USDOT reported 11,527 wheelchairs and scooters mishandled by airlines last year, up 11.5% from the year before.  

New guidelines would force airlines to bring wheelchairs as close to the airplane door as feasible and rigorous personnel training.  

"Millions of Americans with disabilities are unable to travel by air due to insufficient government regulation and inadequate airline practices," Buttigieg told Reuters.  

The absence of economic incentives that require airlines to adequately prioritize the proper handling of wheelchairs has been observed.  

Furthermore, it would be mandatory for airlines to furnish loaner wheelchairs to passengers whose damaged scooters and wheelchairs are returned, and they would be permitted to choose the vendor for repairs or replacements.   

The USDOT mandated last year that "lavatories on future single-aisle aircraft must be large enough to allow a passenger with a disability and attendant to enter and maneuver." This requirement applies to American carriers.