A white airplane is centered mid-air ontop of a clear blue sky. White text atop a dark blue background fade overlays the bottom of the image and reads 'A new law has been passed that will make flying easier for people living with neuromuscular diseases and disabilities'

A partnership between the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA), Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), and other dedicated advocates has successfully passed a new law that will make flying easier for people living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT).

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Airport employees and airline personnel will now receive stronger, hands-on training to help passengers with disabilities, such as those with CMT, to traverse the airport and to stow their wheelchairs properly.
  • Continued study to allow people to stay in wheelchairs during flights.
  • Airlines will be held accountable for reported damage to wheelchairs and other mobility devices ensuring everyone stays safe.
  • Airlines will be required to publish cargo hold dimensions and to refund individuals when they cannot fly due to cargo hold space constraints that prohibit wheelchair storage.
  • People living with disabilities now have a seat at the table when the government makes future decisions about air travel.
  • The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights is codified into law.

“Air travel for many with CMT becomes increasingly difficult as their disease continues to progress,” said Suzanne Bruhn, PhD, Chief Executive Officer at CMTA. “Thanks to the incredible efforts of our community advocates, this law removes many barriers not only faced by the CMT community, but by all who use assistive mobility devices, to make equal access to air travel a reality. I am proud of the work accomplished by so many, and the CMTA will continue to advocate for our community to have the best quality of life possible.”

For many years, advocates have been raising their voices, meeting with lawmakers, and sending messages to their elected officials urging them to support a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would include much-needed reforms to help make air travel a safer, more dignified experience for passengers traveling with wheelchairs and mobility devices. This law results from community members sharing their stories and personal experiences with air travel, and sharing how these new provisions in the bill would improve their flying experience. Community members and disability advocates made personal connections with their representatives to provide key information as the reauthorization process was ongoing.

CMTA thanks all who helped make The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights a reality. This is a huge win for the CMT community. CMTA remains committed to continue working to create a world where air travel is easier and safer for all who have CMT.

Published: May 16, 2024