The Air Carrier Access Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in October of 1986.
The Air Carrier Access Act was made necessary by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the U.S. Department of Transportation v. Paralyzed Veterans of America. The U.S Supreme Court ruled that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act did not cover private airlines because they were not “direct recipients” of federal funding that went to airports.
The Act’s provisions prohibited discrimination based on disability and restricted air carriers from charging more for people with disabilities.
Furthermore, airlines could not limit the number of people with disabilities on a flight and they could only require a person with a disability to have an attendant under very limited circumstances.
Encyclopedia of American Disability History by Susan Burch, PH.D.