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Flying with a TBI: What You Should Know

black and yellow butterfly
black and yellow butterfly

Use this tipsheet to plan your next flight if you have a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The 1986 Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) requires that airlines and airports make reasonable efforts to provide accommodations to people with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations available to individuals with TBI include:

  • An optional wheelchair assist
  • Pre-boarding
  • Skipping lines
  • Assistance placing baggage in overhead compartments

The ACAA provides that an individual may pre-board if due to a disability. An individual may skip a line if their disability makes them suffer agitation while waiting. You do not have to accept a wheelchair if you feel that you can walk and airlines cannot require a wheelchair assist as a contingency to receive other reasonable accommodations. Personnel cannot ask about the nature of a non-apparent disability.

Unlike laws that govern reasonable accommodations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual does not have to provide medical documentation to prove their disability to airport personnel under the ACAA.

There is usually a conflict resolution officer (CRO) at the airport capable of resolving conflicts between passengers and flight staff. Deferring to the CRO can be helpful in case of a disagreement with airport staff. See Related Resources “Legal Protections on Flights” for more information.

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