Air travel – disabled passengers rights and responsibilities

When travelling it’s important to know your legal rights and obligations. Air travel should benefit all people and disabled people or people with limited mobility should have the same opportunities as able-bodied people. Free movement, freedom of choice and non-discrimination should apply to all people and all areas of life.

Disabled people should not be refused carriage because of their disability, except for safety reasons. Before accepting a reservation from a disabled person, air carriers and travel agents should make every effort to enable their disabled client to travel unless there is a reason that the person cannot fly safely.

Passengers’ responsibilities

  • If you need any special seating arrangements contact the airline as soon as possible after booking your ticket.
  • If you have any special dietary requirements, contact the airline or travel agent as soon as possible.
  • Arrive at the airport in plenty of time. At least two hours before departure time.
  • Notify the airport staff that you will require assistance, at least 48 hours before departure time.
  • You will need to bring an assistant with you if you need any help to lift yourself, reach an emergency exit unaided, unfasten a seatbelt, retrieve and fit a lifejacket or fit an oxygen mask.
  • If you use an electric wheelchair, you will be able to use it right up until you get to the transfer gate where you will be required to transfer into a folding wheelchair.
  • Ask the cabin crew if you need any assistance with stowing your hand luggage, going to the toilet and if you need any help with your on-board meal.
  • If an item of disabled equipment has been lost or damaged in the airport or during the flight, it is the disabled persons right to complain and seek compensation.

Airports’ and airlines’ responsibilities

  • The airport must provide staff to assist wheelchair users and disabled passengers.
  • The airport staff must be trained in disability awareness.
  • The airport staff must be available to assist disabled people at the airport, as well as on the aircraft.
  • Airport staff should assist during baggage reclaim.
  • Disabled passengers should board the aircraft first before the boarding announcement.
  • It is the airline’s responsibility to employ staff and have equipment to assist disabled passengers. Passengers should receive access to this equipment without further charge.
  • Assistance should be given at the airport to help a disabled person get from a designated point to the aircraft and to the designated point of disembarkation.
  • All essential information should be accessible to disabled people.
  • If wheelchairs or other adaptive equipment is lost or damaged during handling at the airport or during transportation on board the aircraft the passenger should be compensated.

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