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Travelling With a Wheelchair: Transport Support Services To Help You

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Blog

Summer has well and truly arrived, and with it brings the opportunity for many of us to enjoy ourselves on holiday. Travelling with a wheelchair anywhere in the world can be a daunting prospect, so here we thought it would be a good idea to run through some of the most important things you need to know about transport support services when using airline travel, particularly if you are someone who is worried about how you are going to travel with your wheelchair effectively.

Airlines and airports

It’s important to tell your airline at least forty-eight hours before your departure if you’re going to need help. Airports and airlines will have different facilities specifically for disabled people. You can find out from your airline or airport if they will have the facilities that you desire, such as a toilet with disabled access.

Help for you at the airport

If you have a learning, sensory or physical disability which has an effect on your mobility when utilising transport, at airports in the EU and UK you have the right to:

  • Help in order to reach check in
  • Help given at specific arrival points, including terminal entrances, in car parks and at transport interchanges
  • Helping with your registration at check in
  • Help provided with moving through the airport if it is needed, including to the toilets
  • Help if you need it to board the plane

You will also have the right to mobility aid because of things such as your age or an injury or temporary illness, for instance if you have a broken leg and it’s in a cast.

Help for you on the plane

If you have a learning, sensory or physical disability which impacts your mobility on any flight, in the EU and UK you have the right to:

  • Receive information about your flight in a way that you can understand it
  • Receive help in finding a seat that is suitable for your needs
  • Receive help moving around the plane, including to and from the toilets

Taking your wheelchair onto the plane

You won’t be able to take your personal wheelchair into the passenger cabin of the plane, as it will be stored safely in the hold. Speaking to your airline to find out what help they can provide whilst you are boarding is always a good idea.

Inform your travel agent, tour operator or airline as soon as you possibly can if you are taking on a battery-powered mobility aid or wheelchair.

Travel with a companion

If you are not self-reliant, you must travel with a companion. For example, if you require help with breathing, using medication, feeding, or using the toilet. The airline that you fly with will do their best to ensure that you sit beside each other, so long as they are told at least forty-eight hours before you depart.

Travel with assistance dogs

You also have the right to travel with an assistance dog, but will need to follow the rules on pet travel. These indicate that you can return or enter Great Britain with your pet dog, cat, or ferret if it:

  • Has already been microchipped
  • Has a health certificate or pet passport
  • Has undergone vaccination against rabies; it will also need to be blood tested if you are travelling from a country that is not listed.

Reporting a problem

If you are not pleased with the help you get, complain to the airline or airport directly. If the problem cannot be resolved with them, you can complain to either:

  • An alternative dispute resolution body (ADR)
  • The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the case that the airport or airline does not have an agreement with an ADR