A policy by American Airlines that banned some wheelchair users flying from 130 domestic airports has been reversed after review and criticism.
The policy, made in June 2020, restricted those who use powered wheelchairs weighing more than 400 pounds on certain domestic flights, and more than 300 pounds on others. With batteries included, many powered wheelchairs weigh more than the new capped load.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the new rules were brought into power without much noise, until John Morris of Wheelchair Travel shared his experience on his blog. Morris was denied boarding a flight in mid-October from Gainesville, FL, to Dallas, Texas, as his wheelchair weighed over 450 pounds.
The story was picked up in November by NPR, which received a statement from American Airlines after publication saying that it would look into the policy and review the situation.
After the review process, the airline is reversing the policy.
In a statement to NPR, American Airlines said, “After close consultation with our safety team and our aircraft manufacturer partners, we’ve eliminated the conservative weight limits that temporarily impacted our ability to carry some mobility devices and wheelchairs on our smaller, regional aircraft.” It then went on to say, “We are committed to learning from this as we redouble our focus on improving the travel experience for our customers with disabilities.”
Details about the updated policy can be read on Wheelchair Travel in which Morris stated that this is a “move in the right direction, but damage was done.”