The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued two guidance documents emphasizing that federal law guarantees all passengers the right to fly free from discrimination.
In light of recent incidents on airplanes alleging discrimination that went viral, the department introduced new documents Friday, Jan. 13 that supersedes prior action.
The department collaborated with representatives of airlines and civil rights organization to come up with the policy.
“DOT is committed to protecting the civil rights of all passengers, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These guidance documents will help passengers understand their rights and help airline employees avoid behavior that violates the law.”
The first document, “Guidance for Airline Personnel on Nondiscrimination in Air Travel,” contains examples of scenarios to help airline employees and contractors understand their legal obligation not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry in air travel.
The second document, “Passengers’ Right to Fly Free from Discrimination,” uses a question-and-answer format to assist the flying public in understanding their rights when flying on commercial airlines.
In November, the department began reporting more detailed information about discrimination complaints that it receives in its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report.
The report now specifically identifies the numbers of complaints by protected class: race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry/ethnicity.
Prior reports listed only the total number of discrimination-related complaints sent to the department.
The enhanced reporting intends to provide more transparency regarding the number of complaints that the department receives in each of the protected classes.
“The goal of ensuring the security of our national air transportation system is consistent with our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws,” said acting DOT General Counsel Molly Moran. “These guidance documents seek to ensure equal treatment of all air travelers by educating air travelers and providing airline employees the necessary tools to make fact-based decisions about what constitutes threatening or suspicious behavior in compliance with the law.”