Airline Wheelchair Policy Change

For full list of issues of importance to the S3T Community visit the Issues Center.


Airlines must change their policy to allow people who depend on wheelchairs to remain in their own wheelchairs when they fly.


  • It is safer for the individuals who depend on wheelchairs. Under the current airline policies, these individuals routinely suffer personal injury and damage to their wheelchairs.
  • It is safer for the airline workers. Under the current airline policies, airline workers are required to lift people in and out of wheelchairs, often risking back strain or other injury to themselves. Airline workers should not be asked to participate in a defective policy that routinely injures passengers and damages personal property.
  • It will eliminate millions of dollars of airline costs associated with wheelchair damage reimbursements and lawsuits.
  • The engineering problems to solve (how to keep a wheelchair secured in flight) have been solved. There is no valid barrier to changing the policy other than willingness.


  • Airlines should commit to a Passenger 1 Date: A specific date on which they plan to allow the first passengers to fly while remaining in their own wheelchairs. This is a key requirement to drive focus and urgency (lacking right now). All efforts can be coordinated from this Date.
  • Governing agencies must produce updated regulations, describing the airline's updated responsibilities under this new policy change.
  • Airlines must update their policies to reflect the new practices, as well as risk management or other issues to address.
  • Standardize new cabin configurations that allow wheelchairs to be safely locked down during flight so the individual can stay in their own wheelchair. This includes taking the current designs (shared widely in 2023) and hardening them for real flight operations, and then introducing them to the first wave of aircraft.
  • Train staff on new procedures for onboarding, offboarding and handling emergencies.
  • Communicate and coordinate the change across the airline ecosystem, via a public dashboard that includes the clear timeline noted above, step-by-step execution plan, and tracking and public reporting of progress. Manufacturers, vendors, airlines, airports, airline worker unions, regulators must all work together to make this successful.

Action Underway

Key Milestones

Delta innovation team