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Bipartisan Legislation Aims to Improve Air Travel for Passengers With Wheelchairs 

Jun 6, 2023 |

Flying with a disability can often be a challenge for passengers who may experience long wait times or even get mobility aids lost in transit. As a wheelchair user herself and passionate advocate for the community, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is fighting to make the travel experience smoother and more accessible for millions of Americans.  

Duckworth, along with U.S. Senator John Thune and U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen and Pete Stauber, have introduced bipartisan legislation to improve air travel for passengers with disabilities, notably those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The bill, known as the Mobility Aids on Board Improve Lives and Empower All (MOBILE) Act, would help ensure the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) takes additional actions to empower passengers who use mobility aids, such as manual and powered wheelchairs, to better prevent more disability-related incidents. The Amputee Coalition and various organizations have proudly endorsed this legislation.  

As outlined in the press release on May 5, the MOBILE Act would require the Secretary of Transportation to: 

  • Issue a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring air carriers and foreign air carriers to publish dimensions of cargo holds; 
  • Evaluate the frequency and types of damage to wheelchairs and scooters; 
  • Develop and submit to Congress a strategic roadmap on researching the technical feasibility of accommodating passengers in wheelchairs in the main cabin; and 
  • If in-flight, in-wheelchair seating is determined to be technically feasible, assess the economic and financial feasibility of accommodating passengers with their wheelchairs in the main cabin during flight. 

Above all, Senator Duckworth wants to ensure the rights of travelers with a disability are upheld by airlines across the country. “As a frequent flyer whose wheelchair is regularly broken or damaged, I understand firsthand how deeply frustrating it is that our aviation system still fails to make sure every passenger with a disability is treated with dignity and respect,”she said.“No air traveler should be left in the lurch or immobile on a plane, which is why I’m proud that after successfully writing the first law to require airlines to disclose the number of lost or broken wheelchairs, today I’m building on this progress by introducing this new bipartisan bill. It’s long past time we make flying easier and more accessible for the millions of Americans with disabilities who travel by air each year.”