In this article, we will cover everything that passengers with reduced mobility should know when booking a flight. This includes all planning before boarding an aircraft, plus using an adapted vehicle to get to the airport. And we will provide five essential tips to ensure an accessible journey.
Everyone should have access to air travel. However, travellers with varying abilities cannot always rely on airports and airlines to get the travel experience they deserve. Several challenges may occur already on the way to the departure. Are the airports you are going to use accessible? Do they provide designated parking spaces and accessible transportation? How accessible are the EV chargers available to you? Will special assistance be available?
Regulations for disabled travellers
Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006
According to the European Union's Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006, air carriers and airports are required to assist disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility for all flights departing from an airport within the EU, including departures from Switzerland. Community air carriers or air carriers registered in non-European countries are also obliged to provide relevant assistance for flights departing from non-European countries into the European Union. It is important to notice that these regulations also allow persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility to claim assistance from air carriers and airports.
Required to provide assistance
Thanks to these regulations by the European Union, which is in force since 26 July 2008, air carriers and airports are required to provide assistance and information to ensure that individuals with reduced mobility can enjoy air travel that is comparable to that of other citizens. It requires European airlines and airports to provide assistance and information to facilitate the planning and performance of a flight for the individual in question.
5 Tips for travellers using adapted vehicles to get to the airport
For disabled travellers, adapted vehicles and mobility solutions such as driving aids, hoists, wheelchair lifts and ramps make it easy to get to and from the airport. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Tip 1: Plan ahead
To make sure you get the best travelling experience, it is important to plan in advance. Research the airport and airlines you'll be using. Make sure you've booked the necessary equipment and have all the documentation you need. If you're travelling with mobility aids, you usually can travel with up to two items of mobility equipment free of charge. This will not count as part of your baggage allowance.
Most importantly, notify your airline at least 48 hours before your departure if you require assistance. Check if the airport provides the facilities and services you need, such as:
- designated parking spaces
- accessible transportation
- assistance at specific points of arrival and interchanges, check-in, moving through the airport, and boarding the plane.
Tip 2: Book your transportation in advance
If you're using an adapted vehicle, book your transportation in advance to ensure availability and the necessary accommodations for your mobility device.
Tip 3: Arrive early
Arriving early gives you time to get through security and board your flight without feeling stressed. If necessary, inform the airline about your reduced mobility and your need for assistance even upon your arrival and check-in.
Tip 4: Know what rights you have and how to claim them
As a person with a disability, you have the right to both get and claim assistance when you're travelling by air. As mentioned above, within the EU the regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 requires airlines to provide accommodations and services for people with reduced mobility.
Tip 5: Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances
Try to be prepared for unexpected events to happen, stay calm, and ask for assistance if needed. The airline and airport staff are supposed to help you.
Travelling by plane with a disability can sometimes seem difficult, but its possibility is proven by travellers every day. With the help of mobility aids, adapted vehicles, and existing regulations, disabled passengers can enjoy air transportation and make the next trip a memorable one.