Group sues over air­line rule de­lay

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Hugo Martin hugo.martin@la­times.com

A veter­ans group has sued the U.S. Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment for de­lay­ing a rule that would have re­quired air­lines to track data on lost or dam­aged wheel­chairs and scoot­ers in the same way that car­ri­ers re­port lost or dam­aged lug­gage.

Start­ing next year, air­lines op­er­at­ing in the U.S. were ex­pected to begin re­port­ing when they had lost or dam­aged pas­sen­gers’ wheel­chairs and scoot­ers.

But the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment has de­layed im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rule un­til 2019, prompt­ing a law­suit by Par­a­lyzed Veter­ans of Amer­ica con­tend­ing that the re­port­ing would help fliers iden­tify which car­ri­ers are most likely to lose or dam­age a wheel­chair.

Air­lines usu­ally re­quire pas­sen­gers to have their wheel­chairs or scoot­ers stored in a plane’s cargo area. Dur­ing the five-year pe­riod when the wheel­chair rule was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, dozens of trav­el­ers wrote to the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment cit­ing ex­am­ples of lost or dam­aged wheel­chairs.

“Wheel­chairs re­place func­tion­al­ity and pro­vide in­de­pen­dence. Hav­ing your only means of leav­ing the plane get lost or dam­aged is de­mor­al­iz­ing,” David Zur­fluh, pres­i­dent of Par­a­lyzed Veter­ans of Amer­ica, said in a state­ment. “It is a sig­nif­i­cant issue for all trav­el­ers with mo­bil­ity lim­i­ta­tions, and one Par­a­lyzed Veter­ans of Amer­ica will not re­lent on un­til it’s fixed,” he said.

The veter­ans group is ask­ing the court to re­in­state the orig­i­nal start­ing date of Jan. 1, 2018.

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