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Call for more action to prevent airline mishandling of wheelchairs

Airport staff pushing passenger in wheelchair

U.S. House committee leaders this week called for airlines to do more to prevent mishandling of wheelchairs and scooters of passengers with disabilities, and sought more information on airlines’ policies and procedures.

In a letter to industry group Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and National Air Carriers Association president George Novak,  “requesting information on the largest U.S. airlines’ current policies, procedures, and practices regarding their handling of wheelchairs and scooters for passengers with disabilities”.

Currently, thousands of wheelchairs and scooters are estimated to be mishandled by airlines each year, creating challenges for millions of Americans who have  mobility disabilities.

According to an investigative piece published on October 19, in The Register-Guard, U.S. carriers reported having mishandled at least 6,915 chairs between January and August—an average of 29 times a day.

“We write to express our strong view that the U.S. airline industry must do more to prevent mishandling of mobility aids for passengers with disabilities. The act of taking a passenger airline flight is an expression of mobility, and we appreciate that more and more Americans with disabilities are choosing to fly. But there is a growing need to ensure that their mobility aids are being safely enplaned and that passengers are provided a clear and fair remedy when their mobility aids are mishandled,” DeFazio wrote in the letter.

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