The Air Carrier Access Act

What is Air Carrier Access Act?

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits the discrimination by the United States and foreign air carriers based on physical or mental disability. The Department of Transportation has issued a rule setting the standards of service where air carriers are expected to provide to disabled individuals.

The ACAA applies to individuals with disabilities who have a service animal or those who have an emotional support animal. It only applies to a person with disabilities and not to all persons who have a mental illness.

As defined by the Air Carrier Access Act, a physical or mental impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems:

  • Neurological
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Special sense organs,
  • Respiratory including speech organs
  • Cardio-vascular
  • Reproductive
  • Digestive
  • Genito-urinary
  • Hemic and lymphatic
  • Skin
  • Endocrine

Or, any mental or psychological disorder such as organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities.

The act states that air carriers must permit dogs and other service animals to go with the person on a flight. If an individual is traveling with a service animal, the carrier must provide either a bulkhead seat or a seat other than a bulkhead seat.

The Air Carrier Act also restricts airlines from charging fees for disabled persons with an emotional support animal.