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Travelling with a Disability

Posted on 27th January 2016 at 1:24pm

Disabled Travel

Guide to Travelling with a Disability.

Did you know that under the European law any person who has reduced mobility have legal rights when they choose to travel by air?

It is therefore vital you advise your airline of any requirements at least forty-eight hours before travel.  Learn more about your rights as we discuss the services available for those passengers with a disability.

Services Available to all UK Passengers with a Disability

The following services should be available at all UK airports for all those passengers who have a physical, learning or sensory disability which has a profound impact on their mobility when travelling:

1. The option to ask for assistance at various arrival points such as car parks, terminal entrances and interchanges.
2. Help to get to the check-in point.
3. Help with registration at check-in point.
4. Assistance moving through various parts of the airport and this includes access to the toilets.
5. Help with getting on and off the plane.
6. A personal briefing given to you on the emergency procedure covering the layout of the cabin.
7. Help retrieving your luggage.
8. Assistance getting to the toilet. Check as some planes will have a wheelchair on-board.
9. Someone available to meet you to ensure you can carry on with the next part of your journey. This includes helping you reach a connecting flight.

NOTE: It is worth noting that any assistance on the plane is the responsibility of the airline and not the airport.

Plans of the Airport

Take a moment to visit the website of your departure airport to get an understanding of the layout and where the various facilities are located. Such facilities can include information desk, car parking and check-in points.

Travelling on Your Own?

If you are planning on travelling alone, you must be able to meet certain criteria as you may be refused to travel. These requirements include:

1. Ability to unfasten your seat belt.
2. Ability to leave your seat in order to reach out for the emergency exit.
3. Ability to put on your own life jacket and oxygen mask.
4. Ability to understand the safety briefing.

You must appreciate that it is not the role of the cabin crew to provide care to disabled passengers. Many airlines may state that you have to travel with a companion for your own safety if you are not ‘self-reliant’.

If you need assistance breathing, using your medication, accessing the toilet or feeding you too may be asked to travel with a companion.

Choosing a Seat on the Plane

The majority of airlines will let you choose your own seat that most meets your needs and requirements. However, many airlines will state that you cannot sit in seats that obstruct access to emergency exit doors.  This is for everyone’s safety.

Requesting Extra Seats

If for the reasons stated above, you need to travel with someone as acting as your companion the airline should make an effort to ensure you sit together. In many cases the airline will offer you a reduced fare for your companion.

If you are offered a reduced rate, there may be a limit on the number of reduced flights available to you especially if it is a peak holiday flight. Your airline will be able to provide details.

This restriction may also apply for disabled travelers who require access to two seats. It is not uncommon for airlines to request medical information.  Your travel agent will be able to advise what information will be required.  It could be a letter from your doctor or a parking permit.

Requirements of the Airline

If you have a disability you may be asked to complete the following forms:

1. Medical Information Form.
2. Incapacitated Passengers Handling Advice.

Don’t be alarmed these are standard forms supplied by the airline in order for them to gain an understanding of the assistance required throughout your journey. The Incapacitated Passengers Handling Advice form can be completed by yourself whereas the Medical Information Form needs to be completed by your doctor.

It is important that you discuss your disability with your travel agent or airline. Even if your doctor says it is ok to fly each airline has their own policies in place.

Remember you are entitled to help and support. Do not be afraid to ask for help.  If you have any questions direct these to your travel agent in the first instance who will be more than happy to assist.

Please go to our dedicated page on Disabled Travel Through UK Airports for more practical information on this subject.
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