Silhouette of man in wheelchair and people carrying luggage in airport

Accessibility Issues Still Plague U.S. Airports

  February 4, 2020

By Dan Hounsell

Accessibility continues to bedevil institutional and commercial facilities, nearly 30 years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While education and government buildings most often seem to find themselves in the crosshairs of accessibility complaints, the nation’s airports and airlines also can present a host of roadblocks to accessibility.

Business travel is often exhausting and tedious, and travelers who have disabilities face an extra set of problems on top of this, since a lack of information about accessibility at airports, hotels, and car services can turn an average work trip into a gamble, according to Skift.

Michael Swiatek, chief strategy and planning officer for Avianca, spends part of his time raising awareness about the importance of accessibility in travel. Swiatek, who is legally blind, travels frequently for work and believes that the lack of attention paid to accessibility is the main reason business travel can be such a hurdle for many people.

While the ADA went a long way to ensure legal protections and minimum accessibility requirements, information about accessibility features is often still hard to find. This lack of awareness has made traveling with a disability so uncertain that some people avoid it. For many employees, this could mean missing out on opportunities to network, learn new skills, and advance their careers.

Unreliable describes much of the travel industry when it comes to accessibility features. Delta, for example, has a relatively good customer service group, according to Swiatek, which allows him to get information and specify what he needs. Meanwhile, many airlines invest much less in accessibility features, and hotels are even more challenging.

“Many disabled people just don’t travel,” he says.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.


Read next on FacilitiesNet