The Hearing Loss Association participated in the US Department of Transportations’ (DOT) forum on the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), “Working Together to Improve Air Travel for Passengers with Disabilities” January 11, 2011. We joined members of the disability community, the domestic and foreign airline representatives, and staff from DOT, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the US Department of Justice. In short, the room was filled with people interested in access to air travel for people with disabilities taking time out of their busy schedules for the two-day forum.
Don’t say: Your lousy airline made my trip miserable. I’ll never fly Amanda Airlines again!
Do say: On January 11, 2011, I told Amanda Airlines personnel at the gate that I would not be able to hear any announcements. They told me they didn’t have time to worry about me and I should ask another passenger to alert me when it was time to board. I did not feel comfortable asking a stranger to help me. What I did do was stand next to the boarding area podium for 20 minutes, watching the gate personnel and the passengers to be sure I did not miss my flight. When I thought I understood it was time to board and got in line, one of the gate staff yelled at me for boarding early, humiliating me in front of the other passengers. Also, when was finally on board comfortably settled into my seat with my hearing dog tucked under the seat in front of me, a flight attendant told me I must move to the bulkhead. Now, I thought it was OK for me to sit anywhere in the airplane with my service animal, except right next to the emergency exit. When I said that to the flight attendant she insisted that I must move now or I would be escorted off the plane. Because I simply wanted to get to my destination without any further problems, I did move to the bulkhead, but it was not comfortable for me or my service dog. Please let me know what Amanda Airlines will do in response to this complaint.
If you put it off, you could forget the details – and so could they. Make notes on the flight, and put a letter together and send it in as soon as possible. You can contact the airline directly, or fill out the form on the DOT website: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/escomplaint/es.cfm
You can expect to receive a reply from the Airline. The reply should respond to all your concerns, not just one, and let you know whether they agree or disagree that their staff was at fault, and direct you to the DOT if you wish to pursue it further. If you received a form letter, the airline did not do the right thing. Complain again.
DOT investigates and keeps track of complaints. All, DOT and the airline industry, take these complaints very seriously. So, our advice to you: send in your written complaints. Your complaints could help improve access to airlines.
For more information about filing complaints with the DOT, visit http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/ACAAcomplaint.htm