July 11, 2022 -- As more Americans take to the skies for summer travel, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has announced a bill of rights for airline travelers with disabilities, as well as calling on airlines to seat families together free of charge.

“Today’s announcements are the latest steps toward ensuring an air travel system that works for everyone,” Buttigieg said in a news release. “Whether you’re a parent expecting to sit together with your young children on a flight, a traveler with a disability navigating air travel, or a consumer traveling by air for the first time in a while, you deserve safe, accessible, affordable, and reliable airline service.”

The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights describes rights listed under the Air Carrier Access Act. There are 10 listed, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect and the right to receive information about services and aircraft capabilities and limitations.

“The Bill of Rights does not expand or restrict the rights of air travelers with disabilities. Rather, it provides a convenient summary of existing law,” the DOT says.

The family seating issue is addressed in a notice issued by the DOT’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection. It urges airlines to seat children 13 and younger with accompanying adults at no extra charge.

“There continue to be complaints of instances where young children, including a child as young as 11 months, are not seated next to an accompanying adult,” the DOT said.

USA Today reported that children and adults have been separated on planes more often as an increasing number of airlines go to basic economy tickets, which don’t have reserved seating.

Show Sources

USDOT. “Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights”
USDOT. “Notice Encouraging U.S. Airlines to Have Policies that Enable Children To Be Seated Adjacent to an Accompanying Adult to the Maximum Extent Practicable and at No Additional Cost”
USA Today. “Department of Transportation announces a bill of rights for disabled passengers”
 

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