Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organisation for US airlines, along with seven of its passenger airline members – Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United – have announced a pledge to improve accessible air travel for all passengers with disabilities, including those with mobility, cognitive and social disabilities.
‘A4A’s passenger airlines jointly commit to taking steps to improve accessibility and services for passengers with disabilities’ reads a letter signed by the seven airline CEOs (Alaska Air Group’s Ben Minicucci, Robert Isom of American Airlines, Delta’s Ed Bastion, Hawaiian’s Peter Ingram, JetBlue’s Robin Hayes, Gary Kelly of Southwest, and United’s Scott Kirby). ‘We recognise the need for a specific commitment to remove barriers to safe, accessible air travel.’
As part of the commitment, A4A’s passenger airlines have pledged to four actions intended to improve accessibility, while continuing to prioritise the safety of all passengers:
• Carriers will establish a passenger accessibility advisory group within the airlines to work directly with the disability community and improve policies and operations.
• The carriers pledge to improve passenger transfers and the handling of personal mobility aids.
• The carriers commit to improving accessibility services training for frontline employees and providing more education on passengers with disabilities for all airline industry workers.
• The carriers will support the continuing study and development of safe and feasible aircraft accessibility features that broaden air travel opportunities for passengers with disabilities.
In addition to improving air travel for the disability community through the four-part commitment, A4A says that its passenger airline members meet all Department of Transportation (DOT) accessibility standards and fully support the rights of passengers with disabilities set forth in the DOT’s Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, most especially the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
‘A4A’s passenger airlines have long been engaged in a variety of initiatives to increase air travel accessibility. They are committed to continuing to work with the disability community, aircraft and mobility aid manufacturers and safety regulators to explore safe and feasible solutions that reduce barriers to air travel, and believe the industry’s accessibility commitment is a step forward in enhancing the travel experience for passengers with disabilities’ read an A4A statement.