The U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) has issued new rules to airlines regarding seating for family travel and a new bill of rights for disabled passengers.
According to reports, the DOT has ordered airlines to ensure children can be seated on flights next to their accompanying adults for no extra charge, and failure to do so could lead to regulatory action.
"The department expects U.S. airlines providing scheduled passenger service to review their seating policies and practices and revise them as necessary to ensure the ability of a parent or other accompanying adult to sit next to his or her young child," said the department in a notice.
The DOT added that in beginning in four months, its office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) will review airlines' practices and policies, and if found that there are barriers to a child age 13 or under sitting next to an adult travelling companion, the department will consider launching a formal process that would ban airlines from charging fees for such seating arrangements.
Bill of Rights for Disabled Passengers
In addition, the DOT on 08JUL unveiled a bill of rights for disabled passengers that provides and guarantees legal protection to those with disabilities under the United States' 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 382, with the following 10 rights:
- The Right to Be Treated with Dignity and Respect.
- The Right to Receive Information About Services and Aircraft Capabilities and Limitations.
- The Right to Receive Information in an Accessible Format.
- The Right to Accessible Airport Facilities.
- The Right to Assistance at Airports.
- The Right to Assistance on the Aircraft.
- The Right to Travel with an Assistive Device or Service Animal.
- The Right to Receive Seating Accommodations.
- The Right to Accessible Aircraft Features.
- The Right to Resolution of a Disability-Related Issue.
The DOT clarified: "The Bill of Rights applies to individuals with a disability which is defined in Part 382 as persons with a physical or mental impairment that permanently or temporarily impacts a major life activity such as walking, hearing, or breathing."
It added that the new Bill of Rights "does not expand or restrict the rights of air travelers with disabilities. Rather, it provides a convenient summary of existing law."
According to the DOT, these laws apply to all airlines operating out of any U.S. airport for domestic or international flights. Foreign airlines - including Canadian carriers - operating within the U.S. will be held to the same standard as American-owned airlines.