Barriers to Access in Aviation Show Steep Decline


New Findings from Open Doors Organization on Airports and Airlines. The Open Doors Organization (ODO) is happy to report that as more American adults with disabilities than ever take to the skies, far fewer encounter major obstacles at airports and with airlines. Their current spending on air travel alone is nearly $9 billion annually. These findings are from ODO's 2015 nationwide survey, conducted by Mandala Research, LLC as a follow-up to ODO's groundbreaking studies of 2002 and 2005 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adult travelers with disabilities.

"The aviation industry's investments not just in accessible facilities but also customer service and disability awareness training are clearly paying off," commented ODO Director Eric Lipp. "It's true that a majority of passengers with disabilities still encounter obstacles, but we're moving the right direction." From 2005 to 2015, reports of major obstacles at airports dropped 21% (from 82% to 65%), while reports of obstacles with airlines dropped 14% (from 84% to 72%).

According to the ODO 2015 Study, 31% of American adults traveled by air over the past two years. These 11 million air travelers took 23 million trips and spent a total of $9 billion just on their own flights. For the vast majority, these were leisure trips accompanied by one or more adult family members or friends, so the actual economic impact is actually double, $18 billion. Air fares averaged $400 while spending at the airport averaged $20, double the amount in 2002.

"Our research also revealed how important the Internet and mobile devices are to these travelers. We encourage airlines and airports to make both their websites and mobile apps accessible," said Mr. Lipp. "The more detailed the access information you can give us to plan our trips, the better." The percentage of travelers booking trips online has now jumped to 62%, up from 51% in 2005, while 57% use mobile devices to support their needs.

Mr. Lipp shared additional findings from the ODO Study at the 2015 ACI Latin America-Caribbean/World Annual General Assembly, August 31-September 2 in Panama City, Panama. A "Disability Sensitivity Training" course from Open Doors Organization is available at the ACI Online Learning Centre.

Copies of the 2015 Market Study may be purchased from Open Doors Organization website by calling 773 388-8839 or e-mailing

The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. To learn more about ODO's numerous aviation initiatives, visit the ODO website (

Mandala Research, LLC, who partnered with ODO on this study, offers a diverse range of travel market research products and services--along with expert analysis--to Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies