If you have a sensory, physical or learning difficulty then navigating and negotiating a busy airport can be daunting task.
EU regulations brought in in 2007 state that all European airports must now offer assistance to disabled travellers to make traveling thought the airport and boarding the plane a much easier and more relaxed experience.
It is important that you know all the types of assistance that can be made available to disabled travellers before arriving at the airport, especially as it may be difficult to get the help you need if you simply just turn up at the airport on the day of your flight. Plan ahead in order to make your journey through the airport to your plane as smooth as possible.
Notify your airline or your chosen airport at least 48 hours in advance if you are going to require any assistance during your time in the airport. This way, the airport and airline staff will know to be prepared for your arrival and will have staff ready and waiting to help.
You should also take time to investigate the disabled access and facilities at your chosen airport so that you know whether flying from there would even be suitable for your specific needs.
What You Are Entitled To
In July 2007, the EU introduced a set of regulations which state that no airline or airport can deny the booking of a flight or the boarding of an aircraft based on a person’s limited mobility.
The only exception to this is if it is physically impossible to board a passenger with limited mobility due to the size of the aircraft or the size of the aircraft doors.
However, these regulations only apply to flights departing from European airports.
In 2008, the EU regulations were amended to include provisions stating exactly what a disabled traveller is entitled to in any European airport. If you have a sensory, learning or physical disability which affects your mobility when travelling then you are entitled to the following:
1. Help and assistance at specific arrival points such as car parks, terminal entrances and transport interchanges. There are similar provisions for disabled passengers who land at EU airports.
2. Help to reach check-in desks
3. Help with registration at check-in
4. Help with moving through the airport including reaching disabled toilets etc.
5. Help with getting on and off the plane.
6. A briefing for you and any companion you are flying with on the layout of the aircraft and the emergency procedures.
7. Flights from EU airports are obliged to carry medical equipment and 2 pieces of mobility equipment for free without it impacting on hand luggage allowance. Support dogs are also obliged to be permitted providing all vet and paperwork requirements are met.
8. Help with stowing and retrieval of baggage from the plane.
9. Help reaching the toilet on board the aircraft. Some airlines carry an on-board wheelchair as passengers are not permitted to take their own wheelchair into the cabin, it must be stowed with the luggage.
10. Both airports and airline companies are responsible for ensuring all staff are provided with adequate training so that any staff providing direct assistance to disabled passengers know how to meet their needs.
11. Airports and airlines are also responsible for ensuring all staff are up to date with disability and equality training.
Travelling Alone or with a Companion
In order to travel alone on an aircraft, you must be deemed self-reliant by the airline, and in order to be classed as self-reliant you must be able to do the following:
1. Unfasten your seat belt unaided
2. Leave your seat and reach an emergency exit
3. Put on an oxygen mask and life jacket
4. Be able to fully understand the on board safety briefing and also any instructions given by the airline crew.
If you are unable to conform to any of the above conditions then an airline will demand that you fly with a companion. If you need assistance with breathing, medication, feeding or going to the toilet then you will also be required to travel with a companion.
Many airlines will offer discounted rates for companions travelling with disabled passengers and they will also do their best to seat you together.
You may be able to qualify for priority boarding if you inform your airline in advance that you are disabled and travelling with a companion. Airline will allow you to choose seating most suitable to your needs. However, for safety reasons, people with a disability or limited mobility will not be allowed to sit in sits where they restrict or obstruct access to an emergency exit.
Here are some of the provisions laid out at a few of the UK’s largest airports for disabled travellers.
Heathrow airport offers special assistance services to aid disabled passengers travel through the airport with ease. There are plenty of disabled parking bays and in the short stay car park there are help phones close to all the disabled spaces. These are to be used by passengers who need help getting from the car park to the terminal if required.
Heathrow also offer a special assistance bus to transport travellers with limited mobility between gates and terminals. There are also a number of special assistance areas with induction loops, reserved seating for disabled passengers at the gates and assistance phones situated at the best height for those in wheelchairs.
For specific details regarding any of the above information on disability assistance at Heathrow airport please click here.
Manchester airport offers a wide range of services to aid disabled travellers during their time in the airport. Assistance points are situated throughout the car parks and terminals for disabled travellers to call for help should they require it.
Manchester Airport have teamed up with DisabledGo to produce a detailed guide of your journey through the airport for their disabled travellers which describes the journey through the airport, complete with photographs of all reference points.
Manchester Airport has also implemented the Airport Awareness Scheme which is designed to ease the airport journey for families travelling with children on the Autistic Spectrum. Specific travel booklets for parents and children are available on request.
For specific details regarding any of the above information on disability assistance at Manchester airport please click here.
If you are flying out from Glasgow Airport then you have the option to take advantage of their special assistance in partnership with Omniserv. With Help Points located throughout the airport, disabled passengers can call for assistance whenever they need it.
There is also a dedicated assistance area located within the main check-in area.There are accessible lifts and toilets throughout the airport as well as an induction loop to amplify announcements.
Smaller, more local airports should be able to provide good assistance to disabled passengers too, but do remember to notify your airline in advance to make sure you get all the assistance you need to make travelling a pleasure, whatever disability you have.
For specific details regarding any of the above information on disability assistance at Glasgow airport please click here.
All Other UK Airports
Rather than us making this page read as long as “War & Peace” by adding details for each and every airport in the UK we thought that it might be easier for you to simply search on Google for the airport you’re interested in. All the major UK airport websites will have sections relating to special assistance.
Alternatively, there is a great charity website out there called Disabled Holidays Info who provide accurate and detailed holiday information for people with disabilities.