How does the ADA apply to airplane travel?

Andrew Rozynski and David John Hommel
How does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to airplane travel? Do airlines need to provide GF meals and snacks if they are providing food to passengers? Do they need to allow passengers with celiac disease to carry food on board without incurring extra baggage fees?

Answer


The ADA does not directly regulate air travel. Airlines are governed by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). However, the ACAA requires that airlines accommodate passengers with disabilities, which can include those with celiac disease. While airlines are not specifically mandated to provide gluten-free (GF) meals, many do offer them as a meal option. It's advisable to request a GF meal in advance of your flight.

As for food carried onboard, passengers with celiac disease should be allowed to bring their own GF food without incurring extra baggage fees. This is considered a reasonable accommodation. It’s best to communicate with the airline prior to travel to clarify its policies and ensure a smooth journey.

Published April 7, 2024

Note: This information is provided by NCA, Andrew Rozynski, and David John Hommel. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA, Andrew Rozynski, or David John Hommel by providing this information.

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