So what do you do if you have an access-related problem at the airport, or even on the airplane? The answer is simple: always remember to ask for the CRO — the Complaints Resolution Official.
The CRO is a problem solver, and is specifically educated on traveler’s rights and airline responsibilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). All US airlines are required to have a CRO on duty while the airport is open, so if you encounter a problem at any stage of game, from reservations to deplaning, this is the person to contact. Foreign carriers are also required to have a CRO available at airports that serve flights that begin or end in the US. Alternatively, the CRO can be available by phone.
It’s also important to note that CRO has the authority to overrule the decision of any other personnel, including third-party contractors. They even have jurisdiction over the airline websites. The only exclusion to their jurisdiction is a pilot who makes a decision based on safety issues.
So what if the employee you ask doesn’t know who — or even what — the CRO is? Then ask to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor may very well be the CRO; and if not he or she will most certainly know who to call.
Of course, it really helps to know your rights when talking to the CRO. In other words, don’t misquote the law and demand bulkhead seating or a first-class upgrade. On the other hand, if airline personnel want you to transfer to an airline wheelchair at check-in, or try to deny you passage, then it’s time to contact the CRO.
The CRO will help you resolve access problems, and ultimately get you the services you are entitled to under the law. But, knowing the law is the first step in self advocacy. And in that respect, it’s also a good idea to brush up on the rules in the ACAA (www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=ae47679a5dc0b0cdd685abc7e3437dbb&mc=true&node=pt14.4.382&rgn=div5).
So, first learn the law. Then, whenever you have an access-related airline problem, remember to ask for the CRO!