As airlines face an increasing number of disability-related complaints, new legislation would ensure that the public knows more about the problems travelers with disabilities are encountering and how they’re resolved.

A bipartisan bill introduced this month in the U.S. Senate would require the Department of Transportation to publish an annual report disclosing the number of complaints the agency has received in the previous five years related to passengers with disabilities and the nature of the complaints.

The report would also need to detail the review process for such complaints and how quickly each one was reviewed and addressed.

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At present, the Transportation Department is not required to report on the number and type of disability complaints it receives related to air travel. But, a Government Accountability Office report last year showed that problems are ballooning with 1,394 disability-related complaints lodged in 2021, which is 157% more than in 2020 and 54% greater than in 2019.

The senators behind the new bill proposal said that travelers with disabilities routinely encounter issues ranging from untrained staff to damaged or lost wheelchairs and passenger injuries.

“For too long, carriers have gotten away with predatory practices that view passengers with disabilities as disposable,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., one of the bill’s sponsors. “By preventing disability-related complaints from being swept under the rug, our bipartisan bill would shine a light on these problems and help ensure that the millions of passengers with disabilities who fly every year are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Duckworth introduced the bill known as the Prioritizing Accountability and Accessibility for Aviation Consumers Act of 2023 with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

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