Air travel for visually impaired travellers

21/10/2010

Airplane taking off

Air travel for visually impaired travellers can be a daunting experience, but with a little preparation, there’s no reason why a visually impaired traveller can’t have a smooth flight.

Visually impaired travellers should warn their airline that they may need assistance at the airport. The airline should be informed at least 48 hours prior to air travel so that they have plenty of notice.

Airport staff are on hand to assist visually impaired travellers to help them check their baggage in, walk them through customs and assist them with boarding the plane in preparation for air travel. This service must be requested before arriving at the airport, as there may not be a member of staff available to help at the last minute.

If the visually impaired traveller has their baggage searched by security, they should tell the security officer to repack their bag in the same order to avoid confusion.

Whilst on the plane, a visually impaired traveller should have access to safety information that is in Braille or audio format. During air travel, cabin crew should be able to help guide visually impaired passengers to the toilet.

Assistance dogs can travel with visually impaired people provided they are part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). PETS assistance dogs can sometimes fly with their owner in the cabin of a plane, but only certain airlines allow this.

In order for an assistance dog to be cleared for air travel under the Pet Travel Scheme, it must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and be treated for worms and ticks. The assistance dog must also have a pet passport. Some countries might have different requirements regarding assistance dogs. The Pet Travel Scheme ensures that assistance dogs don’t have to endure a lengthy quarantine procedure.

Air travel is an accessible form of transportation for visually impaired travellers. A little extra preparation is all that’s needed.