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The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality


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Last week I had trouble trying to get a handicap seat pre-assigned on Norhtwest Airlines. I spent an hour on the phone with an agent and a supervisor trying to explain why I needed to have a handicap seat pre-assigned (I was assigned a seat in the very last row of the plane). I told them that I has POTS, explained my condition (I become very tachycardic even if I stand for short periods of time. I can't stand in lines, period, end of story, I become tachycardic and then I usually get angina.) Well, the supervisor's suggestion was that I "get to the airport early and stand in line and see if you can get a handicap seat at the ticket counter". I went round and round with him and I was very nice, until I got to the point that I told him that it was humiliating to beg for a handicap seat because of my health. I then ended the conversation because I knew that I was going to cry and I didn't want him to know that he got the best of me. After I hung up, I found a

very helpful travel website for people with disabilities. I found this info on their website:

The Toll Free Hotline for disabled air travelers has been in operation since August 2002 and is available for callers from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.Eastern Time, seven days a week. It is currently not being fully utilized. The Hotline serves two main purposes:

(1) education and

(2) assistance in resolving disability-related air travel problems.

* Many disabled air travelers are not aware of their rights and the Hotline, in part, exists as an educational service to inform air travelers with disabilities about their rights under the Air Carrier

* Access Act and the Department's implementing regulations 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382). Hotline operators are well versed in the ACAA and Part 382 and can provide callers with on the spot general information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities.

The Hotline operators also respond to requests for printed consumer information about air travel rights of the disabled.

* The Hotline can also assist air travelers with disabilities in resolving real time or upcoming issues with air carriers. The purpose of "real-time" assistance is to facilitate airline compliance with DOT's rules by suggesting to the passenger and the airline involved alternative customer-service solutions to the problem. The airline remains responsible for deciding what action will be taken to resolve the issue in accordance with the ACAA and Part 382. Generally, if a caller has a real time problem or an upcoming issue with an air carrier, a Hotline Duty Officer will contact that air carrier and attempt to

resolve the issue. For example, there have been a number of incidents in which Hotline Duty Officers have contacted air carriers and convinced them to accept service animals and electric wheelchairs on board flights, to stow folding wheelchairs in the cabin, and to provide requested wheelchair assistance.

Air travelers who want information about the rights of persons with disabilities in air travel or who experience disability-related air travel service problems may call the Hotline to obtain assistance at:

1-800-778-4838 (voice) or

1-800-455-9880 (TTY).

Air travelers who want DOT to investigate a complaint about a disability-related issue still must submit their complaint in writing via e-mail at airconsumer@ost.dot.gov or postal mail to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division

U.S. Department of Transportation

400 7th Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20590

To request flyers promoting the Hotline to distribute to your membership, contact (202) 366-1617 (voice) or (202) 366-0511 (TTY).

I called the hotline and they told me what to say when I called Northwest back. They said if my issue wasn't resolved with that phone call to call the hotline back and they would contact the airlines for me. Well, I called back and in less than 5 minutes I was preassigned a handicap seat.

The link for the website is listed below, as well as, some information about the organization. I hope that you all find this information helpful.



"The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) is a non-profit educational organization that has actively represented travelers with disabilities since 1976.

SATH's mission is to promote AWARENESS, RESPECT and ACCESSIBILITY for travelers with disabilities and the mature and EDUCATE the travel, tourism and hospitality industry on becoming more accessible for persons with disabilities.

SATH works vigorously for the creation of a barrier-free environment (architectural and attitudinal) throughout all segments of the travel and tourism industry, in the United States and abroad. The Society's efforts bore fruit in the access section of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and in the Air Carriers Access Act."</span>

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