Air travelling rights and services for people with disabilities

tour special needs family

A free Hotline is available and serves two main purposes: (1) education and (2) assistance in resolving disability-related air travel problems.

The Toll Free Hotline for air travel with disabilities is available for callers from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week.

Many families with disabilites are not aware of their air travelling rights and the Hotline, in part, exists as an educational service to inform air travelers with disabilities about their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department's implementing regulations 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382).

Hotline operators are well versed in the ACAA and Part 382 and can provide callers with on the spot general information about the rights of special needs families and disabilities regarding air travel.

The Hotline operators also respond to requests for printed consumer information about air travel rights of special needs families and disabilities.

The Hotline can also assist air travelers with disabilities in resolving real time or upcoming issues with air carriers.

The purpose of "real-time" assistance is to facilitate airline compliance with DOT's rules by suggesting to the passenger and the airline involved alternative customer-service solutions to the problem. The airline remains responsible for deciding what action will be taken to resolve the issue in accordance with the ACAA and Part 382.

Generally, if a caller has a real time problem or an upcoming issue with an air carrier, a Hotline Duty Officer will contact that air carrier and attempt to resolve the issue. For example, there have been a number of incidents in which Hotline Duty Officers have contacted air carriers and convinced them to accept service animals and electric wheelchairs on board flights, to stow folding wheelchairs in the cabin, and to provide requested wheelchair assistance.

Air travelers who want information about the rights of special needs families and disabilities in air travel or who experience disability-related air travel service problems may call the Hotline to obtain assistance at: 1-800-778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY). Air travelers who want DOT to investigate a complaint about a disability-related issue still must submit their complaint in writing via e-mail at or postal mail to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

Barrier-Free Travel: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers by Candy Harrington, the editor of Emerging Horizons.This useful resource contains detailed information about the logistics of planning accessible travel by plane, train, bus and ship. Filled with worldwide resources, family travel tips, and updated information about accessible travel options for families coping with disabilities or special needs.

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