From Candy Harrington's travel blog, Barrier-Free Travel:
I get a lot of questions from readers about the logistics of accessible travel. Some people ask questions about upcoming trips, some want particular recommendations and some write to tell me about problems they encountered in their travels. And although the folks that had problems usually aren't happy campers, most still ask the the same question, "What should I have done?" Granted, a few cases were truly no-win situations, and nothing could have saved the day; however most folks could have salvaged their trips by being a more effective self-advocate.
Full entry: http://barrierfreetravels.com/serendipity/archives/609-Being-an-Effective-Self-Advocate.html
Dec 1, 10, 7:27 pm
Katja, thanks for this information. Can anyone comment further on using an airline's Complaint Resolution Officer? Is this a kind of super-supervisor who is always available? Do they focus on problems connected with TSA issues? Or are they only empowered to handle airline-related issues? Are they focused on disabled travelers? Or what? I've really not heard about this title before.
Sorry to be so long responding to this.
Here, from http://www.scootaround.com/tips/airline/accessible_air_guide.htm, is information about the CRO's role:
Who handles passenger complaints regarding compliance with ACAA regulations?
Every carrier that operates scheduled service must designate at least one Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) to resolve ACAA complaints at each airport it serves. The CRO must be available, either in person or by phone, at all times the airline is operating at a given airport. When CROs are available by phone, they must be able to communicate by means of a TDD.
What must a CRO do to resolve a complaint?
The CRO must take direct action, either personally or through another employee, to resolve any violations of the ACAA. The CRO cannot, however, overturn a decision made by the pilot-in-command based on safety concerns.
What happens when the CRO agrees with the passenger that an airline has violated ACAA regulations?
If the CRO agrees with the passenger that a violation of the ACAA has occurred, the CRO must provide the passenger with a written statement summarizing the problem and outlining what steps the carrier will take in response to the violation, as well as the passenger's right to pursue a complaint with the DOT.
What if the CRO determines that the airline's actions were not in violation of the ACAA?
The CRO must still provide a written summary of the determination and advise the passenger of his or her right to file a complaint with the DOT.
When should the passenger expect to receive the written statement from the CRO?
The complainant should receive the statement immediately at the airport. If this is not possible, the CRO must forward it to the passenger within 10 calendar days of the complaint.
May passengers file written complaints with the air carrier?
Air carriers must have procedures for resolving written complaints concerning ACAA violations. Carriers are not required to respond to any complaints postmarked more than 45 days after the alleged violation. The airline must respond to the complaint within 30 days after receiving it.
The response should summarize all the facts and determinations concerning the complaint.
What information should a passenger include in a written complaint?
Written complaints concerning suspected violations of the ACAA should include:
flight information, including name of air carrier and number, date, and time of flight and connecting flight, if applicable
whether the passenger contacted a CRO
the name of the CRO and the date contacted, if applicable
copies of any written response received from the CRO
What other recourse is available to passengers who believe that an airline has violated ACAA regulations?
Anyone who believes a carrier may have violated ACAA regulations may contact the DOT at:
U.S. Department of Transportation
Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-25
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590
(202) 366-0511 (TTY)
A formal complaint analogous to a civil lawsuit may also be filed with the DOT. This complaint must comply with specific rules of practice and be filed with the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at the DOT. A civil lawsuit filed in the appropriate court may also be an option under the ACAA.
So the CRO is a representative of the airline (not the airport), and is responsible for handling concerns about the ACAA, which covers boarding, the flight, and deplaning. What happens in the airport itself (i.e., the TSA security search) is not in the scope of the CRO's duties.
Dec 8, 10, 10:15 pm
Thanks for this information and for the link. I read the entire page, very helpful.