woman in pink shirt riding on black and red wheel chair

How Traveling with Disabilities is Changing for the Better

If you’re a disabled traveler, or traveling with someone who has a condition requiring extra assistance, you should seek the guidance of a professional when it comes to planning your trip.

Keep in mind that the more information your travel professional has, the better he or she can ensure you have the perfect vacation. So be specific when describing what you require, and any limitations. Whether you want to experience the outdoors at a national park, explore the sights of a city or spend time at the beach, your travel advisor can put together a trip that meets your needs.

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, but booking accommodations is especially important for travelers with disabilities since hotels have a limited number of accessible rooms. To make sure that you’ll be comfortable, try to replicate what you have at home. If you use a roll-in shower, a bench or grab bars in your bathroom, let your travel advisor know that you’ll need those in your room.

While progress has been made in meeting the needs of disabled travelers, thanks in part to the Americans with Disabilities Act, much remains to be done. Here’s a rundown of recent developments at home and around the world. Your travel advisor will have the most up-to-date information.

Congress is considering legislation that would require the Department of Transportation to evaluate the frequency and types of damage to wheelchairs and scooters on airplanes. The legislation would also order the department to research the feasibility of allowing passengers to remain in their wheelchairs during a flight, instead of being transferred to a regular seat. And carriers would be required to publish the dimensions of their cargo holds.

Airlines are already working on designing a better experience for passengers who use wheelchairs. In May, Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, debuted a prototype that can turn a standard passenger seat into an accommodation for a wheelchair. This first-of-its-kind airline seat would allow passengers to remain in their own powered wheelchairs during the flight, with access to a headrest, center console tray tables and an adjustable cocktail table.

United Airlines plans to outfit its entire mainline fleet with Braille signage by the end of 2026. The airline currently has equipped about a dozen aircraft with Braille markings for individual rows and seat numbers, as well as inside and outside the lavatories. United is also working with disability advocacy groups to explore the use of other tactile navigational aids throughout the cabin.

Greece is installing remote-operated ramps at more than 250 beaches in order to make them accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Along with the ramps, the government will make sure other essential facilities are also accessible, such as walkways, bathrooms and changing areas, snack bars and parking.