Below are comments submitted by Fred Shotz (highlighting done by Ragged Edge). He is happy for others to read these and use as a sample. Contact Fred Shotz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments RE: NPR for Air Carrier Access Act
The term "facility" should apply only to the aircraft itself and not to any parts of the airport terminals or boarding areas, including ticket counters, customer service counters, check in gate counters, jetways, or other boarding devices. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines provides minimum requirements for counter heights, widths of paths of travel, maneuvering clearances, ramp slopes, etc. The regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation published to implement the requirements of the ADA provides minimum requirements for wheelchair lifts. In the years since the effective date of the Air Carrier Access Act airlines have continued to have built counters too high for use by people with disabilities. Airlines have continued to have built jetways with sections too steep for use by people with disabilities who use wheelchairs, and with ramp sections (with slopes exceeding 5 percent for distances greater than 6 feet) lacking handrails. Violations of the ADA can be addressed by private lawsuits in federal court. There is no such right provided by the Air Carrier Access Act. By transferring the requirements for accessibility within the built environment of airports from the ADA to the ACAA this regulations will take from people with disabilities our right to enforce minimum access standards within the built environment. Historically the U.S. Department of Transportation has not been effective in addressing these issues within airport terminals.
By not requiring that all flights in a routing that includes a U.S. airport for foreign aircraft flights this regulatory law will not allow people with disabilities to travel internationally on airlines other than U.S. flag carriers. If a routing is purchased with an origination and destination and with at least one stop in a U.S. airport, not necessarily the origination or destination location, then all flights in that routing should be required to comply with the Air Carrier Access Act. Otherwise, using the example in the NPR, a person might get to Germany only to be stranded in an airport by an airline refusing to transport a power wheelchair, refusing to accept a service animal in the passenger cabin, or refusing to provide seating accessible to a passenger with a disability. By only applying the Air Carrier Access Act to routings that have a U.S. origin or destination, but not flights that have stops in the U.S. people with disabilities traveling, for example, to Canada through the U.S. from Europe or South America, would have no right to accessible air travel. The concept of exempting foreign carrier flights that are part of a continuous routing but where there is a change of equipment and a change of flight number is simply an invitation to foreign flag airlines to change flight numbers and equipment to avoid the requirements of the Air Carrier Access Act on their routes once outside of the U.S. on flights that begin, end, or go through the U.S.
It is suggested that waiver language specifically exclude any waivers concerning the transportation of service animals in the passenger cabin of aircraft. Some foreign flag airlines have attempted to require that all service animals be crated and transported in baggage. Some foreign flag airlines have attempted to require that all service dogs be muzzled in the passenger cabin of their aircraft. These types of regulations serve to prevent people with disabilities who are partnered with service animals from being able to fly on foreign flag airlines as they either cannot be separated from their service animals or their service dogs are unable to perform their trained tasks when muzzled.
The "direct threat" language should specifically state that a person with a disability with a service animal cannot be denied air transportation, or be denied having the service animal in the passenger cabin due to the animal being a direct threat unless the animal actually exhibits aggressive behavior (growling at or attempting to bite) towards a person in the airport or on the aircraft. No service animal can be deemed to be a direct threat based on the breed or size of the service animal. A service animal cannot be deemed to be a direct threat based on the size of the animal unless the service animal cannot fit into the space in front of the row of seats in which the passenger with a disability is seated with the extra depth of a bulkhead row, or in any other seating row on the aircraft, without protruding into a main traffic aisle of the aircraft.
It is strongly suggested that the Final Rule contain specific language as to the requirements for emotional support animals. These requirements should specifically state that only people who are disabled due to a mental illness (substantially limited in the ability to engage in one or more major life activities due to a mental impairment), and not every person who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, can have emotional support animals in aircraft passenger cabins. The medical documentation should specifically state that the person is disabled based on this legal standard and that a simple statement of diagnosis or a statement of disability based on the medical definition of disability is not sufficient.
An airline should be required to apply for a waiver to a requirement that medical oxygen be provided on all flights with the waiver only being available when the airline can demonstrate that due to the aircraft design it is not possible to provide medical oxygen consistent with the FAA requirements. The rule should also set a fee structure for providing medical oxygen as a defined multiple of the actual costs to the airline for providing medical oxygen (such as 2 times or 3 times the actual cost to the airline). Leaving this out of a regulatory law until some future date results in this regulatory law not providing equal access to air travel to passengers with disabilities due to breathing impairments.
Since the passage of the ADA there has developed a history of regulatory law and case law that prohibits businesses from charging people with disabilities based on the space such people occupy. This proposed rule would result in this being the only regulatory law that allows such additional charges. Stadiums, movie theaters, and other assembly facilities, just as airlines, earn income by the sale of seats. While a stadium may provide seats that are 18 or 20 inches wide to the general public the ADAAG requires that a seating space for a person using a wheelchair must be no less than 33 inches wide. No additional charge can be made of a person with a disability due to the additional width of a wheelchair accessible seat. Restaurants earn money based on how many tables and how many customers they can fit into their facilities. The ADAAG requires that accessible tables provide 30 inches of width for people with disabilities who use wheelchairs and that such tables be on an accessible route no less than 36 inches wide. Restaurants are not permitted to charge customers with disabilities for the extra space required to accommodate such customers. Airlines are the only entity not required to provide extra seat width to customers with disabilities who use wheelchairs. It is more than fair that airlines be required to provide a minimum width to passengers with disabilities, not all people who are obese but those who are "substantially limited" and to only be able to charge an extra fee when the passenger needs a seating width that exceeds this minimum requirement. It is suggested that the standard used in the ADAAG be used in this rule with an additional charge only being allowed when the passenger requires a seating width exceeding 30 inches. The Departments "long standing" rule has shown to have the end result of denying equal access to air travel for people with disabilities who are unable to fit into a 16 to 18 inch wide seat and should not be carried forward into the new rule.
Until such time as this rule is amended to address new technology for providing information at gates that is accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing the rule should require that airline gate personnel will directly provide information provided in an audible format by public address to any passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing and who request such assistance and who are seated within the gate area when an announcement is made.
It the final rule allows two years for existing airline websites to be accessible to people who are blind, an excessive delay, then the final rule should require that any airline with an inaccessible website that offers lower ticket prices, or waives any ticketing fees, to internet customers offer those same lower prices or waiver of ticket fees to passengers who purchase tickets by telephone and who self identify as being blind or disabled due to a visual impairment.
As to providing a means to request accessibility services through a website, this should not apply to requesting bulkhead seating or seating with additional leg room for passengers with disabilities who qualify for such seating. Based on the history of people committing fraud to obtain what they believe to be better seating (in sports facilities and concert facilities in addition to in air travel) such requests should be made by telephone when appropriate questions can be asked of the passenger to verify that the passenger qualifies for such seating.
The availability of the regulatory law should require that this material be provided in print (including alternative formats) and not just on the computers of the airline. There is a history of at least one major airline only having 14 CFR Part 382 on their computers, not allowing the passenger to go behind the counter to see the computer screen, and only printing out very limited parts of the regulatory law thereby not giving the passenger access to this information. Based on this history of abuse by one of the largest U.S. flag airlines a very explicit rule is needed.
The time frame for accessibility in foreign airports seems to be reasonable but, as stated above, the requirements of Titles II and III of the ADA, including the ADAAG, should apply to all airline leased and/or operated elements of the built environments of airports in the U.S.
Electronic ticketing kiosks should be accessible to people with disabilities including those who use wheelchairs and those who are blind. In addition to providing operating controls within reach ranges usable by people using wheelchairs the video displays of these devices should be required to be at a height and at an angle that makes the visible and readable to people who are seated in wheelchairs. Just as ATMs now provide audible information for those people unable to see these kiosks should be equipped to provide equal access to people who are blind or disabled due to visual impairments.
Many airlines perform additional security screening at the gates prior to or during boarding. This rule should address a specific issue, that of searching wheelchairs. If a wheelchair is to be searched with the person required to transfer from the wheelchair a transfer station with a fixed seat and fixed grab bars meeting the ADAAG requirements for grab bars at water closets (ADAAG section 4.16.4) should be provided with a screen that can be put in place as requested for privacy during the transfer. While recognizing the regulatory authority issue this requirement should also apply to airport security screening areas when a transfer is required.
While there is no reason to provide movable armrests on aisle seats of rows where passengers with disabilities may not sit there is no basis for excluding those rows when determining the number of aisle seats that must have movable armrests. Since the rule requires that only 50 percent of aisle seats must have movable armrests the rows that are not available based on FAA rules for passengers with disabilities would be part of the 50 percent of aisle seats without movable armrests. By excluding those seats from the count of seats on which the number of seats accessible to people with disabilities is calculated this will simply reduce, for no reason, the availability of accessible aisle seats.
There is full agreement that there is no foundation for any type of seat being excluded from the requirement for movable armrests. The major airlines have used the failure to require 50 percent of seats, including all seat types, to engage in intentional discrimination against people with disabilities. The seats that never have movable armrests are those seats where the airline does not want passengers with disabilities. With the exception of one or two airlines no airline has provided movable armrests in business class or first class cabins. With no exceptions no airline has provided movable armrests on bulkhead aisle seats, seats in high demand by business travelers and travelers with infants, even though 14 CFR Part 382 requires that bulkhead seating be provided to passengers with disabilities with immobilized leg joints and those with service animals. The airlines have simply used the lack of specific language concerning this issue to deny necessary seating to passengers with disabilities so that have these seats available for their business travelers.
The failure to require accessible lavatories on aircraft with only one aisle has resulted in many people with disabilities being unable to travel by air. People with bladder and/or bowel issues that are part of their disabling impairments continue to be denied equal access to air travel due to the lack of aircraft with accessible lavatories. The requirement for accessible lavatories should not be based on the number of aisles of an aircraft but on the seating capacity of the aircraft. The Department should determine the number of seats lost to the provision of an accessible lavatory and should then determine at what number of seats the loss of that number of seats would not result in an undue financial burden. This commenter suggests that in aircraft with 200 or more seats that an accessible lavatory should be provided.
The dimensions for the space for storing a folding wheelchair in the passenger cabin of aircraft is not sufficient for many folding wheelchairs. The standard clear floor space requirement for a stationary wheelchair is 30 inches wide and 48 inches deep. When a wheelchair is folded the width is reduced but not the length. Therefore the dimensions should be the 13 inch width and the 36 inch height but the length should be increased from 42 inches to 48 inches. Additionally the dimensions should be stated as width, length, and height so that airlines do not attempt to provide a space that is only 36 inches long but 48 inches high. An alternative of strapping a folding wheelchair into seats and bumping passengers as necessary is not a reasonable alternative to providing an actual storage space for a folding wheelchair. This opinion is based on the history of airlines violating the requirements of the Air Carrier Access Act in the past. If an airline was to refuse to provide this alternate folding wheelchair storage location, claiming that the seats are sold, the passenger with a disability will be confronted with a choice of not flying on the scheduled flight or risking damage to the wheelchair placed in baggage. Airlines are well known to give people seeking a CRO for assistance the choice of deplaning and missing the flight or accepting the violation of their rights. Anything that replaces a built in means of compliance with a staff provided means of compliance simply invites violations.
The intent of the existing regulation concerning passengers with a fused or immobilized leg was never to have that passenger extend his/her leg into the main aisle of the aircraft. The existing rule requires bulkhead seating or other seating with additional leg room. Extending a leg into the main aisle is not effective, places the passenger with a disability at risk of injury, and impacts on the use of the aisle by the cabin crew and by other passengers. Additionally many people with disabilities have both legs fused or immobilized making it impossible for such people to fly if the only additional leg room is provide by having a leg extended into an aisle. A person unable to bend a leg to fit into the space of a standard seat cannot magically bend that leg during take off and landing when the FAA requires that the main aisle be clear of obstruction. That person cannot magically develop the ability to bend that leg when beverage and food service carts require the full width of the aisle be clear. Extending an already damaged leg into the aisle invites injury as passengers walk into the extended leg. I have been injured in this way and I have had a leg brace damaged by impact with my brace by a beverage cart. The regulation should require that bulkhead seating or other seating with additional leg room be provided for passengers with disabilities with fused or immobilized legs. When an airline chooses through aircraft cabin configuration design to not provide any accessible bulkhead seating with additional leg room, or any other seating with additional leg room, then the rule should require that the airline provide without additional charge either a business class or first class seat that does have additional leg room or two adjacent coach class seats so that the passenger has the additional needed leg room by sitting at an angle and using the foot space of the two seats. An airline can be relieved of this financial burden simply by providing accessible bulkhead seating that has extra leg room. The existing regulation, with the addition of specifying which side of the aircraft aisle the person is seated DOES NOT resolve the problem faced by people with fused or immobilized legs.
There is no question that the existing rule that allows airlines to refuse to place passengers with disabilities in business class or in first class when the passenger cannot be accommodated in coach class has resulted in extensive discrimination against passengers with disabilities. Airlines have chosen to eliminate accessible bulkhead seating by combining bulkhead seating with exit row seating thereby eliminating coach seating with space for people with service animals and seating with space for people with fused or immobilized leg joints. Airlines should be required to provide business class seating or first class seating for passengers with service animals and for passengers with fused or immobilized leg joints on aircraft that do not provide coach seats with extra leg room. The regulation should be specific as to how much extra leg room is required in a row of coach seats to relieve the airline of the requirement to provide business class or first class seating at no additional cost to the passenger with a disability. As stated previously, passengers with disabilities who are too large to fit in a standard coach seat should be provided with a wider seat, up to 30 inches in width, either by providing such passengers with two coach seats or by seating such passengers in business class or first class if such seats provide a sufficient width. Safeguards for abuse are not a significant issue. The passenger with fused or immobilized leg joint(s) should be required to either demonstrate that the immobilization exists or provide medical documentation of such immobilization. As for those with service animals and those too large to fit in a single coach class seat the issue requiring business class or first class seating is obvious. Since the business class or first class seating requirement is linked to the airlineıs decision to not provide seating in coach class that is usable by such people these passengers should not be excessively burdened with documentation requirements.
Arriving passengers with disabilities seeking assistance at the ticket counter should not be required to request such assistance in advance. Only if passengers with disabilities are seeking assistance prior to reaching the ticket counter, such as for transporting baggage from the parking garage or at curb side baggage checking locations should it be appropriate for airlines to seek advance notice of no more than 24 hours.
In order for people with disabilities to be able to make connecting flights we cannot be excessively delayed in deplaning. Airlines typically refuse to deplane passengers needing to use an aisle chair until all other passengers have deplaned. This practice should be unlawful. The regulation should require that passengers with disabilities be deplaned at the same time as passengers seated in the rows adjacent to that passenger are able to deplane. Therefore a passenger with a disability seated near the rear of the aircraft with the exits at the front of the aircraft would be deplaned when most other passengers had already deplaned but a passenger with a disability seated near the front of the aircraft, with front of aircraft exits, would be deplaned prior to those seated further back in the aircraft. Many passengers flying with limited connecting time choose seats that facilitate prompt deplaning. This same ability should be available to passengers with disabilities including those who require the assistance of an aisle chair when boarding and deplaning.
Concerning the stowage of power wheelchairs in the baggage compartment regulatory language is needed that prohibits the disassembly of power wheelchairs where the batteries are clearly marked as non-spillable (meeting FAA requirements) and where the connection between the batteries and the motors can be disconnected by a key switch or by unplugging a power cord. Several airlines, most notably American Airlines, frequently disassemble power wheelchairs claiming that the batteries have to be disconnected at the battery terminals regardless of other means of isolating the battery power from the motors of the wheelchair. When a wheelchair is disassembled the regulation should clearly state that the airline is responsible for reassembling the wheelchair. The regulation should suggest or require that the airline employee who disassembles the wheelchair provide written information as to how the wheelchair was disassembled to aide the airline employee at the arrival location in the reassembly of the wheelchair.
Baggage liability should include a requirement that when a mobility device is damaged by an airline an equivalent mobility device must be provided within one hour of arrival and the recognition that the mobility device has been damaged. Providing a 45 pound manual wheelchair to a person who can only push an ultra light wheelchair, or to a person in a power assist manual wheelchair or a power wheelchair does not restore the mobility to that person that has been taken away by the damage done to the personıs mobility device. The regulation should provide the airlines with a choice of having on hand a variety of types of wheelchairs for temporary replacement of damaged wheelchairs or have a contracts with a local wheelchair companies that provides for a variety of temporary replacement wheelchairs to be available during all hours of airline operations at each airport from which the airline operates.
There is no question that the current training of airline personnel and contract employees is inadequate. At this time only passengers with disabilities who are knowledgeable as to their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act have any chance at all of not having their rights violated. Ticketing agents on the telephone rarely know of the rules for accessible seating and often refuse to provide seat reservations currently required by the regulations. Agents at ticket counters are typically not educated in these areas either. Gate agents typically do not know the regulatory requirements and often do not even know who the CRO is for their airline. Training of all airline employees who have contact with the public, specific to the issues that each employee addresses, should be required in detail in these regulations. For example, reservation staff should be trained as to the seating requirements. Ticket counter staff should be trained as to seating requirements and airport assistance requirements. Requiring overall and generalized training of the ACAA requirements of all employees simply results in employees not receiving sufficient detailed training of the ACAA issues relevant to their customer interactions.
As far as complaints made to CROs, the regulations should require that the passenger whose complaint has not been resolved be provided with written documentation of the complaint at the time the complaint is made unless the request for the CRO was made by the passenger less than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of the aircraft on which the passenger is traveling. Airlines, especially American Airlines, have typically refused to provide any on the scene documentation and then when documentation of the complaint is mailed to the passenger some days or weeks later the information is incorrect and tends to minimize the discriminatory actions of the airline. Only by providing documentation at the time of a violation of the rights of a passenger with a disability can there be any hope of truthfulness on the part of the airlines.
The language addressing emotional support animals for people with disabilities due to mental illness should be improved to include that the documentation from the mental health professional specifically identify the major life activity from which the person is substantially limited. The vast majority of people who suffer mental illness do not meet the ACAA/ADA definition of disability which requires a substantial limitation of the ability to engage in one or more major life activities. (It should be noted that no court has determined that the ability to travel by air is a major life activity.) Fundamental to the determination of disability is that such determination is not based on diagnosis but on the impact of an impairment. A doctorıs letter that provides a diagnosis does not establish that the person is disabled under the standards of this law.
The regulatory language should also include a provision that seating with additional floor space for a service animal shall be provide on a priority basis to people with disabilities with service animals and only provided to people with emotional support animals when there is no need for such seating by a person with a service animal. It should be noted that service animal users, specifically service dog users, have great concerns about large numbers of people with poorly trained emotional support animals being allowed on aircraft. Many of these dogs prove to be dog aggressive while service dogs are typically trained to never show aggression. A confrontation between a dog aggressive emotional support dog and a non-aggressive service dog can result in permanent harm to the service dog who might then be unable to work effectively around other dogs. Additionally, with airlines designing cabins with very little space for service animals, a broad inclusion of people with mental illnesses who are not disabled but who wish to travel with their emotional support dogs creates an uncomfortable competition for the limited available space. If it is the desire of DOT to broadly define the class of people with emotional support dogs who can bring their dogs into the passenger cabins of aircraft then DOT should also require additional seats in aircraft that have the floor space for such dogs without creating a competition through scarcity.
AS TO SERVICE ANIMALS AND SEATING:
The regulatory language concerning service animals, specifically the language concerning service animals fitting under a seat, is wholly inadequate and will result, as has been the case since this language was published in a DOT guidance, in people with disabilities with service animals being denied transportation by airlines. Nowhere in the existing regulation is there a requirement that service animals fit under the seat in front of a passenger with a disability. In fact the existing regulations require that bulkhead seating be provided to passengers with disabilities with service animals. The Department clearly recognized at that time that most service animals could never fit under a seat in an airplane (at a time when seats were significantly wider than is now the case). Guide dogs for people who are blind are typically dogs weighing from 60 to 100 pounds, a size necessary for them to perform the tasks needed by people who are blind. Mobility assistance dogs are typically as large or larger than guide dogs as they must be able to perform tasks such as pulling people in wheelchairs, bracing people for transferring, and providing balance assistance to people with mobility impairments who are ambulatory. It is impossible for most 75 pound or larger guide dog or most 90 to 120 pound mobility assistance dog that pulls a person in a wheelchair to fit in the 16 or 17 inch wide space under a seat in an airplane.
The problem of space for service animals has increased dramatically due to decisions by airlines that have reduced the accessibility of their aircraft in violation of the requirements of the ACAA. Each time an aircraft with an accessible coach bulkhead row (a bulkhead row that is not an exit row) has been replaced with an aircraft having no coach bulkhead row or with all coach bulkhead rows being exit rows the airline has reduced the accessibility of their fleet. Such changes should be prohibited unless other regulatory language requires usable and effective alternatives to providing accessible bulkhead rows. When an accessible bulkhead row, in a row of three seats, has 10 inches of additional foot and leg space than at other rows then this space can be occupied by a service animal without taking from other passengers the foot and leg space that would be available in other rows of seats. Using the all too typical 16 inch wide seat this would provide a space 48 inches long by 10 inches wide for the service animal (actually more space than that is provided as a width of 16 inches for a seat does not include the width of the armrests). With the service animal also being able to occupy some of the foot and leg space of the person traveling with the service animal most service animals can be accommodated. Since the existing regulatory law required that bulkhead seating be provided, any change in the regulatory law that does not require the amount of floor space detailed above (10 inches by 36 inches in rows with 2 seats, 10 inches by 48 inches in rows with 3 seats) represents a reduction of accessibility and is unacceptable.
In order to comply with the Congressional mandate this regulatory law must insure that people with disabilities with service animals do have equal access to commercial air travel. This regulatory change does not provide this access. What should be required is that airlines either provide accessible coach bulkhead seating with additional leg and foot space that can accommodate service animals or, if the airline chooses to not provide accessible coach bulkhead seating, the airline must provide an empty seat next to the passenger with the service animal, or must seat the passenger with the service animal in a business class or first class seat that provides the necessary floor space. Only when a service animal cannot fit in the space that should be provided in an accessible bulkhead row (10 inches by 48 inches plus the foot space of the person traveling with the service animal) should the airline be allowed to require the service animal to travel in cargo or baggage because of the size of the service animal. It is unacceptable to allow airlines to eliminate seating areas that were designated for priority use by people with disabilities with service animals (and people with disabilities with fused or immobilized legs) and to then make the airlinesı decisions the burden of people with disabilities.
Airlines have every right to design their aircraft interiors as they wish within the limitations of FAA requirements. However, they do not have the right to create and build interior designs that ignore the rights of passengers with disabilities. Congress mandated that people with disabilities have equal access to air travel and the DOT has been charged with making this Congressional desire a reality. In order to meet the requirements of the ACAA this regulatory law must insist that airlines provide the space needed by passengers with disabilities who wish to travel by air. If the FAA approves and the public accepts seats that are 16 inches wide then airlines can use these very narrow seats. But they should not then be allowed to force people, who due to disability, require more space to pay for a larger seat in business class or first class or to purchase two seats.
With the approval of the FAA airlines have the right to eliminate bulkhead rows and to combine bulkhead rows with exit rows. It is my opinion that by allowing these changes in the face of the ACAA requirements for bulkhead seating for specific subgroups of people with disabilities that the DOT has allowed airlines to violate the ACAA. This design flexibility should not be allowed to be used to remove from aircraft the floor space needed by travelers with disabilities with service animals and travelers with disabilities with legs that do not bend. The narrower seats have the purpose of increasing airline revenue by allowing more seats to fit into an aircraft. The elimination of accessible bulkhead rows allows airlines to increase the number of seats that can be sold, again the purpose is to increase airline revenue. It is not unreasonable for airlines to have to assume some costs associated with these revenue enhancing changes. Whether the cost imposed on the airlines is providing an extra seat without charge to a person with a disability with a service animal (or a person with a disability too large to fit in a too narrow seat), or upgrading that person to business class or first class where the seats are wider and where more leg and foot space is provided, that should simply be part of the cost of doing business in the face of revenue enhancing aircraft interior design changes.
It is shocking that the DOT, mandated by Congress to regulate the airline industry in a manner that provides equal access to air travel for people with disabilities, seems more interested in protecting the revenue stream of the airlines at the expense of equal access. The NPRM if it was to become a final rule will prevent many people with disabilities who are unable to afford two coach seats or a business class or first class seat any access to air travel. People with disabilities with legs that cannot bend will be forced to purchase more expensive seats or two coach seats or they simply will not be able to fly. People with disabilities with service animals will be forced to purchase seats in more expensive classes or to purchase two seats. Those with disabilities who cannot afford to pay more than is required of any other passengers will simply be denied air travel. Of the more than 2,000 people with disabilities with service dogs I know of no person who would place their service dog at risk by having their service dog flown in a baggage or cargo compartment.
As I have stated above, the changes in aircraft cabin design that have eliminated accessible seating for people with disabilities with service animals and people with disabilities with legs that do not bend are changes made to enhance airline revenue. The only reasonable response to those changes is for this regulatory law to impose on the airlines the cost of accommodating people with disabilities who have faced this reduction in accessibility. The only alternative to imposing these costs on the airlines, rather than making this a burden placed on people with disabilities, is for the regulations to require accessible bulkhead seating in all classes of service with specific dimensions for the extra leg and foot space provided at these required bulkhead seating rows.
These comments are submitted by Frederick A. Shotz (plaintiff in Shotz et.al. v. American Airlines, et.al) on behalf of himself and on behalf of the members of the Association of Disability Advocates, Inc. and Assistance Dogs of America, Inc.
Frederick A. Shotz, Ph.D.
3389 Sheridan Street
Hollywood, FL 33021