Nov. 04--The Department of Transportation has fined U.S. Airways $1.2 million for not providing adequate wheelchair access for disabled passengers.
The agency said the airline was in violation of the Air Carrier Access Act during two instances at Philadelphia International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 2011 and 2012.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the fine was one of the largest penalties in a disability case.
"All air travelers deserve to be treated equally and with respect, and this includes persons in wheelchairs and other passengers with disabilities," he said. "We will continue to make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly."
The department also announced a new rule to require easier stowage of wheelchairs in new planes.
US Airways said it has made "significant improvements" since the complaints cited in the agreement, according to spokesman Todd Lehmacher.
"We are investing $2 million per year in continuous enhancements to our technology, staffing and training," he told USA Today. "This will build on the success of our recent improvements and ensure that our customers with disabilities have a positive travel experience on our airline."
The Department of Transportation said the airline could use $500,000 of its fine to pay for disability access improvements.
Copyright 2013 - The Washington Times
The DOT requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel...
It is requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities. In addition, airlines will choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment...
Air Canada has received a mild slap on the wrist for failing to provide a woman who had knee surgery with a wheelchair despite the fact she asked for one when she reserved her flight.