Disability Pride Month: How you can help travelers with disabilities

PALS SkyHope celebrates Disability Pride Month
PALS SkyHope celebrates Disability Pride Month

"Do you know which group is the world's largest minority group? Disabled people are the world’s largest minority. The United Nations estimates that over a billion people live with some form of disability and they are disproportionately represented among the World’s poorest and at greater risk of suffering from violence, disaster, poverty, and many other hardships."

Far too many people with disabilities continue to experience unnecessary obstacles and challenges when flying. As an organization whose goal is to alleviate transportation barriers to healthcare, PALS SkyHope stands with those who seek to make airlines more accessible to those with disabilities. There are a variety of barriers people with disabilities continue to face around the world.

A couple of examples include:

  • Having difficulty accessing adequate healthcare and equipment
  • Facing significantly lower rates of employment, which contributes to high rates of poverty and other challenges

Every five years, Congress must renew the authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This gives federal lawmakers an opportunity to examine the airline industry and see if any reforms or other matters must be resolved. That authorization expires at the end of September 2023, and currently Congress is preparing to write a new five-year authorization bill and vote on it in the coming days. This “must pass” bill is an opportunity to enact vital measures that will improve air travel for people living with disabilities.

The Senate and the House have released and are working to pass their own FAA Reauthorization proposals through both chambers. Although each bill is a little different, together these reforms would make substantial improvements to air travel including:

  • Mandating regular training for airline and airport personnel who assist passengers with disabilities and load and stow wheelchairs for flights
  • Continuing the effort to allow people to stay in their wheelchairs during flight
  • Strengthening enforcement of fines and penalties for wheelchair damage and injuries
  • Giving the disability community a seat at the table, and much more

Passengers with disabilities, even after the Air Carrier Access Act was passed, still endure indignities when traveling commercially. These indignities include “damaged wheelchairs, inaccessible lavatories, rude gate agents, and even physical injuries—up to and including death.” While Congress works with the Federal Aviation Administration towards making Airlines accessible for all passengers, there are aviation charities such as PALS SkyHope that provide free private flights to people with disabilities, treating them with dignity and respect they deserve while traveling.

Utilizing an aviation charity such as PALS SkyHope allows you more freedom than traveling with commercial airlines. The biggest difference when flying private is the boarding and security process. Large crowds and going through TSA is a hassle for anyone and more so for those who need to bring large pieces of equipment. When you fly with PALS you control pretty much every detail, even scheduling the exact takeoff time that works for you at the airport most convenient. PALS makes traveling easier for people who are immunocompromised or are in pain, it makes their experience much easier and more comfortable.

“PALS provides an invaluable service to our vets. Many veterans who come to our retreat have prosthetics and it’s a nightmare for them to have to take them off in order to get through TSA and then put them back on. With PALS you don’t need to worry about any of that. You go to the airport closest to you and hop right on your private flight.”

By leveraging over 600 volunteer pilots, PALS SkyHope provides free flights for people in need of long-distance medical care; military personnel and their families traveling for recovery and rehabilitation. 95% of patients who fly with PALS have a disability and many must travel with prosthetics, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and other essential equipment.

For more information about free flights, click here.


You have the power to make critical flights happen

To help a child battling a medical illness get a free flight to a doctor who can save their life. To connect a wounded veteran with a service dog. When you donate to PALS SkyHope, you support people fighting for their lives, and pilots using their skills for the greater good. SkyHope pilots have flown more than 30,000 free missions, lifting the burden for families. With your help, the sky’s the limit for how many missions we can fly and how many lives we can impact. Help us continue to make these flights possible

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