(KFVS) - A new rule will require airlines for the first time to report how many checked bags, wheelchairs and motorized scooters they damage or mishandle each month.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will implement the rule starting on Tuesday, December 4. It’s expected to lower the number of wheelchairs that airlines damage each year and “bring a new level of transparency for passengers with disabilities that will help inform their travel decisions.”
“Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often that is not the case. Travelers should be able to find out if certain airlines have high rates of breaking wheelchairs and other equipment that people depend on, just like we can find out if certain airlines have high rates of flight delays or cancellations,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth. “I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience—it’s a complete loss of mobility and independence. It was the equivalent of taking my legs away from me again. No air traveler should be left in the lurch, immobile on a plane.”
The DOT rule is being implemented after an amendment Duckworth passed became law in October.
According to Duckworth, airlines have broken two of her wheelchairs and lost numerous parts of other wheelchairs since she started using a wheelchair 10 years ago on a daily basis.
In late 2016, former-President Barack Obama announced that by 2018 all U.S. airline services would be required to “report on how often they mishandled wheelchairs so travelers with disabilities can easily compare carriers and make informed travel decisions.” However, the rule was delayed by the Trump Administration in March 2017, hours after airline lobbyists wrote to DOT requesting the rule to be stalled.