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Phoenix among airports creating more "dementia-friendly" conditions

Sky Harbor International Airport

Advocates say nearly a dozen airports in the last few years have modified their facilities and operations to be more dementia-friendly.

Some, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, have incorporated special lanyards, a quiet room and simulation centers to remind passengers what flying is like. But most large U.S. airports are behind the curve compared to Europe and Australia.

While dementia is not specifically mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law defines disability as an individual with a physical or mental “impairment that substantially limits” major life activities.

The Air Carrier Access Act, passed by Congress in 1986, specifically addresses airlines’ treatment of people with disabilities. Among the provisions is making it illegal to discriminate against travelers because of a disability and providing assistance with boarding, deplaning and making connecting flights.