Many airport terminal facilities are at the end of their useful life, and airport managers are developing projects to renovate them to current standards and passenger needs. At the same time, the expected doubling in airline travel demand over the next 20 years will put continued pressure on airports to ensure passenger access and mobility, including those travelers with disabilities and others with access or functional needs (DAFN). All airports have responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With increasing air travel, ensuring access and mobility to all travelers is not just a matter of compliance but one of customer service. A key enabler of universal access and mobility is providing useful information to airport users before and during travel.
This synthesis focuses on availability and communication of information, particularly related to airport and airline practices that assist users to maximize their cognitive and sensory abilities to navigate and use airport services, programs and facilities. When considering traveler access and mobility at airports, information about movement, waiting and wayfinding are typical categories of assistive research. Information about movement considers transition between airport boundary and aircraft and includes walking, mobility aids, and other mobility conveyances. Information about waiting considers arrival, departure and connecting data and assistance, passenger amenities, drop off and pickup, and waiting area attributes. This compilation of current practice should focus on movement and waiting since wayfinding guidance and tools are provided by other ACRP reports. The audience for this report includes airport staff responsible for implementing enhancements to maximize cognitive and sensory abilities, and community-based organizations that provide services for travelers.
This synthesis will document the current state of the practice and provide an overview of resources available to help airports of all sizes address the challenges of improving accessibility and mobility. Information gathered and compiled in a concise report includes, but is not limited to:
Existing literature resources relating to availability and communication of information required by ADA and other related DAFN regulations (e.g., list of FAA advisory circulars, ADA, ACRP and other guidance)
Existing literature on mobility and access practices involving communication of information.
Data collection via interview or survey from airlines, industry organizations, and airports (range of airport sizes/NPIAS categories) with experience in communicating information that assists users to maximize their cognitive and sensory abilities to navigate and use airport services, programs and facilities
Case examples derived from interviews that showcase innovative strategies to communicate information, and documented with photos, checklists, websites, apps and other relevant information.
Information about benefits, limitations and lessons learned from implementing strategies.
Brief listing of current directions in mobility and access that are may not yet be implemented but are envisioned or under development.
Gaps in practice, future needs and further research.
Data collection should include a minimum of nine US airports (three each small, medium and large hubs); five US air carriers with a mix of exclusive and common use terminals; and three or more organizations representing airport users requiring cognitive or sensory assistance that can provide strategies used in other industries.
Partial Information Sources
Applicable requirements of the ADA, as amended (42 U.S.C. 12101-12213)
U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ADA regulations (49 CFR §37 and §38)
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations implementing Title II of the ADA (28 CFR §35)
49 CFR §27, which requires airport sponsors to ensure that terminal facilities and terminal services are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including persons using wheelchairs
ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
FAA’s published Order 1400.9A, Standards and Procedures Essential for Ensuring Access to Airport Facilities by Persons with Disabilities
Lehman Jr, Dayton. Overview of the Air Carrier Access Act Regulation. TRANSED 2010: 12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons, Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, 2010, 10p http://trid.trb.org/view/1127060
ACRP Report 90 (2013): Impact of Regulatory Compliance Costs on Small Airports
ACRP Synthesis 59 (2014): Integrating Airport Geographic Information System (GIS) Data with Public Agency GIS
ACRP Report 52 and its 2015 follow-up, Impact on Practice: Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside http://trid.trb.org/view/1332770
ACRP Guidebook for Airport Terminal Restroom Planning and Design. http://trid.trb.org/view/1332982
ACRP Synthesis 51 (2014): Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports http://trid.trb.org/view/1334854
ACRP Synthesis 64 (2015): Issues Related to Accommodating Animals Traveling Through Airports
Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices. Topic S04-19. Incorporating ADA and Functional Needs in Emergency Exercises. http://trid.trb.org/view/1440768
Alternative Methods of ADA Compliance for Airport Emergency Communications. http://trid.trb.org/view/1417999
ACRP Web Resource 2: Airport Passenger Terminal Design Library, http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/176507.aspx
ACRP Report 67: Airport Passenger Conveyance System Planning Guidebook, http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/167229.aspx
ACRP Report 37: Guidebook for Planning and Implementing Automated People Mover Systems at Airports, https://www.nap.edu/catalog/22926/guidebook-for-planning-and-implementing-automated-people-mover-systems-at-airports
Ozel, Hidayet; Ozguven, Eren Erman; Kocatepe, Ayberk; Horner, Mark W. Aging Population–Focused Accessibility Assessment of Multimodal Facilities in Florida. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Issue 2584, 2016, pp 45–61 http://trid.trb.org/view/1393085
Technology Solutions to Facilitate ADA Travelers. http://trid.trb.org/view/1363710
Welch, Timothy F; Mishra, Sabyasachee; Wang, Fangru. Interrelationship Between Airport Enplanements and Accessibility: Case of Three Airports in Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Region. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Issue 2501, 2015, pp 46–55 http://trid.trb.org/view/1339026
Ward, David. Accessibility tech : new apps and technology enable travelers with disabilities to better navigate terminals. Airport revenue news, 2017, pages 68-71 http://trid.trb.org/view/1466014
Legge, Gordon E; Downey, Chris; Giudice, Nicholas A; Tjan, Bosco S. Indoor Airport Wayfinding for Blind and Visually Impaired Travelers. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Federal Aviation Administration, 2016, 40p http://trid.trb.org/view/1440559
Bosch, Sheila J; Gharaveis, Arsalan. Flying Solo: A Review of the Literature on Wayfinding for Older Adults Experiencing Visual or Cognitive Decline. Applied Ergonomics, Volume 58, 2017, pp 327-333
Vogel, Ben. PRM providers raise their game : equipment to serve limited-mobility travellers continues to evolve. IHS Jane's airport review, 2016, pages 30-31 http://trid.trb.org/view/1418407
Angrave, Jerry. More than a commercial win. Airports International, 2016, pages 20-22
Lipp, Eric. What creates access and inclusion at airports?. Journal of Airport Management, Volume 9, Issue 4, 2015, pp 390-397 http://trid.trb.org/view/1373286
Bauer, Denise H; Frenzel, James; Wall, Richard W; Frazier, Tim G. A Framework for Improved Safety and Accessibility through Pedestrian Guidance and Navigation. University of Idaho, Moscow; Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium; Research and Innovative Technology Administration, 2015, 28p
Frye, Ann. Capitalising on the Grey-haired Globetrotters: Economic aspects of increasing tourism among older and disabled people. International Transport Forum Discussion Papers, International Transport
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Ward, Carol. Boomers & beyond : capturing 'mature' market means tweaks to offerings, customer service initiatives. Airport revenue news, 2015, pages 32-38 http://trid.trb.org/view/1348543
Chang, Yu-Chun. Factors affecting airport access mode choice for elderly air passengers. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Volume 57, Issue 0, 2013, pp 105-112
Chang, Yu-Chun; Chen, Ching-Fu. Service needs of elderly air passengers. Journal of Air Transport Management, Volume 18, Issue 1, 2012, pp 26-29 http://trid.trb.org/view/1125605
Iu, Trevor. Universal Design in Hkia. TRANSED 2010: 12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons, Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, 2010, 8p
Raman, Supriya. Airport Accessibility for Travellers with Disabilities. Journal of Airport Management, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2011, pp 239-244
Nelson, Nicole. Access all areas. Airport World, Volume 14, 2009, p. 71-72 : ill. http://trid.trb.org/view/905835
Van Horn, Laurel. Disability Travel in the United States: Recent Research and Findings. 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED), Transport Canada, 2007, 4p http://trid.trb.org/view/890690
Long, Anna; McCarthy, Michael; Westwood, Dean. Getting to the Airport on Time: A Consumer-Driven Study of a Trip Chain Link. 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED), Transport Canada, 2007, 7p http://trid.trb.org/view/890498
Smith, Stanis. Freedom to Fly – Access to the Skies. 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED), Transport Canada, 2007, 7p
Skinner, Jon. Public Places, Universal Spaces. Planning, Volume 74, Issue 7, 2008, pp 10-13
Poria, Y., & Beal, J. (2017). An Exploratory Study about Obese People’s Flight Experience. Journal of Travel Research, 56(3), 370-380. doi:10.1177/0047287516643416
Holloway, C., Thoreau, R., Petit, E., & Tyler, N. (2015). Time and force required for attendants boarding wheelchair users onto aircraft. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 48, 167-173. doi:10.1016/j.ergon.2015.04.003
Lee, S. (2014). Airport wayfinding and interactive map design for the elderly. Gerontechnology, 13(2), 238. doi:10.4017/gt.2014.13.02.304.00
Chang, Y. C., & Chen, C. F. (2012). Meeting the needs of disabled air passengers: Factors that facilitate help from airlines and airports. Tourism Management, 33(3), 529-536. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2011.06.002
Pirelli, G., & Chawdhry, P. (2009). A joint model for usability and security of the passenger process in airports.
Wu, X. (2009). The scheduling model for disabilities transfer in airports.
Darvishy, A., Hutter, H. P., Früh, P., Horvath, A., & Berner, D. (2008) Personal mobile assistant for air passengers with disabilities (PMA). Vol. 5105 LNCS (pp. 1129-1134).
Gloria Louie, San Francisco International Airport
Lawrence J. Rolon, Los Angeles World Airports
Jon A Sanford, Georgia Institute of Technology
William J. Sproule, Michigan Technological University
Stephen C. Wareham, Trillion Aviation
Vanessa Balgobin, Federal Aviation Administration
Jonathan Torres, Federal Aviaton Administration, Airport Safety R&D Section
Christopher Blasie, Airlines for America
Dr. Shu Cole
Gail R. Staba
First meeting: May 22, 2018, Washington, DC
Teleconference: July 9, 2018; 1:30p EDT
Second meeting: January 11, 2019, Washington, DC