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Travel Tips for People with Disabilities

Part I: Research Your Options for Airlines and Hotels


People with disabilities get around; they travel nationally and internationally by plane, auto, train, ship and other forms of transportation. With a little advance planning, travel for people with disabilities can be safe, fun and rewarding.

Know Your Destination
Because each person with a disability has his or her own special needs, it’s important to research the accessibility standards for your destination. Some countries have nondiscrimination laws to help people with disabilities and others do not, so it’s important to know what you can expect and to plan accordingly.

It’s true for any traveler that your trip will be safer and more enjoyable if you plan ahead.

Once you decide where you are going, research your options for assistance with luggage, getting on and off the plane, moving through the terminal, and transportation options to your hotel.

To get started, check here for travel assistance for people with disabilities:

  • Travel agents who specialize in working with people with disabilities
  • Airport management offices
  • Local organizations for people with disabilities
  • Travel books or guides, in print or on the Internet
Airlines and Hotels
Before you book your trip, know the airline and hotel regulations regarding accommodations for people with disabilities.

In the United States, the Air Carrier Access Act prohibits airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities.

This law addresses issues including:

  • Denial of service to people with disabilities
  • Accessible seating
  • Accessible features in terminals and on the aircraft
  • Requirements for attendants
  • Medical certificate requirements
  • Transport requirements
  • Requirements for the storage and liability of mobility and medical equipment, including wheelchairs, scooters and other assistive devices
Keep in mind that many of these regulations are not enforced outside the United States, so be prepared.

Tip: When making air travel plans, consider your stamina and keep flight lengths and plane transfers in mind.

When making reservations, discuss the following with your travel agent or airline booking agent:

  • Assistance you will need while flying, and at the airport
  • Your type of disability and the equipment you will use, such as crutches or a wheelchair
  • Your request to have a manual or electric wheelchair at the gate when you arrive
  • Any special dietary requirements you may have

Tip: Keep these airline suggestions in mind when making hotel reservations, so you will know if your domestic or foreign hotel will be able to accommodate your needs.

Make sure that all of your booking agents (airline, hotel, and transportation) provide written confirmation of your travel arrangements. It will be helpful to have a record of your travel requests if you ever have to file a complaint.

Tip: Get to the airport even earlier than the airline requests. This will give you plenty of time to handle any last-minute travel issues that may arise.

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