Disabled Travellers: Airport and Airline Services

Under EU law, disabled people and those with reduced mobility have a legal right to assistance when travelling by air. To ensure you get the support you need, it's important to let the airline or tour operator know of your needs at least 48 hours before you are due to travel.

Please note: Even though the UK has now left the EU, the rules regarding disabled passengers rights will remain the same until at least the end of the transition period.

The following services should be available for disabled travellers at all European airports:

  • facilities to summon assistance at designated arrival points, such as at terminal entrances, at transport interchanges and in car parks
  • assistance to reach check-in
  • help with registration at check-in
  • assistance with moving through the airport, including to toilets if required
  • help with getting on and off the plane
  • free carriage of medical equipment and up to two items of mobility equipment
  • a briefing for you and any escort or companion on emergency procedures and the layout of the cabin
  • help with stowing and retrieving baggage on the plane
  • assistance with moving to the toilet on the plane (some planes will have an on-board wheelchair)
  • someone to meet you off the plane and help you reach connecting flights or get to the next part of your journey

To travel alone, you must be able to:

  • unfasten your seat belt
  • leave your seat and reach an emergency exit
  • put on an oxygen mask and lifejacket
  • understand the safety briefing and any instructions given by the crew in emergency situations

Airline cabin crew are not able to provide personal care. For safety reasons, airlines are entitled to require that you travel with a companion if you are not ‘self-reliant'. If you need help with feeding, breathing, using medication or using the toilet you will also need to travel with a companion.

Being disabled should not stop you from travelling abroad; but it does means that you need to be more prepared. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have published some useful travel tips for disabled travellers, including a reminder to buy disability travel insurance.

Travel tips for disabled travellers from the FCO