Travel by air

A large number of different airlines operate both domestic and international flights through UK airports. It is extremely important that the airline in notified at your time of booking if you have any special requirement. We also advise that you re-check that this information has been passed on and understood correctly at least 48 hours in advance of your flight.

Since July 2007 it has been illegal for an airline or travel company to refuse a passenger on grounds of disability. Further to this the Access to Air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with reduced Mobility - Code of Practice 2008 has been introduced. This takes into account matters such as the wider definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Act than in the regulation, although regulation does include people with a temporary impairment. This document also provides you with information about the minimum service requirements that you should receive.

Useful Tips

  • If you require to take any medicines with you in your hand luggage, we advise that you have a note on hand saying what the medicines are. There are a couple of reasons for this, the first is that it will help to satisfy the security personnel at the airport and the second is so that you can obtain further supplies should something go wrong. Furthermore, despite the ban on sharp objects, anybody requiring injections will be allowed to take such objects through providing that you have a doctor's note explaining the medical need for it.
  • Any assistance that is required will need to be booked at least 48 hours in advance and preferably even done at the time of booking. If 48 hours advance notice is not given then it may not be fully possible for the airline to meet your request although they will make every effort possible at the time.
  • Air travel involves a large chain of people and so information can sometimes be easily mistaken or even not reach certain people. We therefore advise that you to check that any request you made for assistance at the time of booking has been fulfilled more than 48 hours before your flight.

Much more information about travel assistance from airlines and airports is available here.

Flying Advice

There are a number of precautions that we advise disabled travellers to take before flying.

It is especially important to give the airlines plenty of notice and tell them as much as possible about your limitations and capabilities.

Outline clearly what they can do to help and let them know the following information:

  • What you need to help you move around (e.g. a wheelchair, or crutches) and if you are able to walk a few steps for example.
  • Whether you will require assistance when entering or leaving the aircraft or to reach your seat.
  • What you need to get to the on-board toilet – airlines are not required to assist you to get into an aisle chair, only to take you to the toilet once transferred.
  • If you have any specific dietary requirements.Whether you need any assistance with your meals.
  • Whether you need help with luggage at the check-in desk.
  • Whether a companion or personal assistant will be accompanying you.
  • Reconfirm your reservation and special arrangements a week before your trip and double-check your arrangements a few days before departure.
  • In addition, if possible, get written confirmation (through a letter, email or fax) of everything the airline assures you it will provide.
  • It is highly recommended that you consider taking out extra insurance on your wheelchair if you are transporting it in the hold. Be sure to inspect it for any damage as soon as you reach your destination.

Airlines also have varying policies regarding wheelchair access. We recommend that you ask the following questions of the airports and airline before you reserve your flight:

  • Is there an accessible route to and from the airport, are there accessible toilets and where are they?
  • Are there any special arrangements for storing and transporting your wheelchair on the plane if it cannot be brought on board?
  • Is there a charge for any equipment you borrow (e.g. a wheelchair to get you around the airport)?
  • If you have an electric wheelchair, are only dry cell batteries permitted on board?
  • Are there tunnels or steps for boarding and deplaning? (If not, find out what the procedure will be for getting you on and off the plane)
  • Is the toilet on board accessible by the on-board airline wheelchair provided? (It may be a good idea to request a seat near the toilet facilities)
  • Will there be assistance available at the baggage collection point?
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