The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new proposal on Thursday to help passengers with disabilities when they fly. This plan is about making air travel better and easier for them.

United States DOT Plans to Make Air Travel Easier for Passengers with Disabilities(Photo : Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Aims to Provide Hassle-Free Travel for PWDs

Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary, talked about the proposal. He says that airlines must follow strict rules to help passengers with disabilities quickly and respectfully. The plan also wants airline workers and their contractors to get better training. They need to learn how to safely help passengers and care for their wheelchairs and other aids like crutches and hearing aids.

According to USA Today, this proposal is part of bigger efforts by the United States government to make traveling better for everyone. This includes new rights for passengers with disabilities and plans to make airplane bathrooms bigger and more accessible. One big problem this proposal wants to fix is how airlines sometimes damage wheelchairs. If this happens, the new rules would make punishing airlines easier for the DOT. They would also have to fix or replace damaged wheelchairs fast and offer a temporary one if needed.

The plan also talks about ensuring wheelchairs are handled safely on planes, especially on big planes with two aisles and smaller ones. The goal is ensuring passengers and their mobility aids are safe and treated well. This announcement has gotten a lot of support from people in the government, disability advocates, and those who work in aviation.

The public can give their opinions on this proposal for 60 days after it's published in the Federal Register. This is a chance for people to share their thoughts and help make these new rules better.

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The United States Increases Flights from China Amid Aviation Recovery Efforts

The United States has announced it will allow Chinese airlines to increase their direct flights to the US. Starting March 31, Chinese carriers can fly 50 round trips per week, up from 35. This is part of efforts to slowly bring back air travel services hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and past disputes between the two countries. However, this number is still much lower than the over 150 flights per week that were common before the pandemic started in early 2020.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to allow more flights after considering the current demand and what's best for the public, as reported by CNN. They see this as a big step towards reforming air travel between the US and China, especially with the busy summer travel season in 2024.

This increase is the fifth time the United States has allowed more flights for Chinese airlines since China began to open up again after the pandemic. The first time was in May 2023.

When COVID-19 first appeared in 2020, air travel to China greatly dropped. American airlines stopped flights to China because they were worried about the virus. Then, China cut down on international flights to stop the virus from entering the country. This led to a big disagreement between the US and China, worsening their tense relationship.

Despite these changes, there are still challenges to fully bringing back travel. Some US politicians have asked the Biden administration not to let Chinese and other non-US airlines fly over Russia to get to the United States. This is because flying over Russia saves fuel and time, giving those airlines an advantage. This has become a complicated issue since Russia has stopped the United States and other foreign airlines from using its airspace.

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