Travelling with a disability or reduced mobility

Flying with an Electric Mobility Aid: What You Need to Know

Planning for a Smooth Trip

If you rely on an electric wheelchair or scooter for mobility, here’s some helpful information to ensure a smooth travel experience:

  • Contact the Airline in Advance: Before booking your flight, check the airline’s policy on mobility equipment. Different airlines may have varying restrictions.
  • Provide Equipment Details: Once you’ve booked, inform the airline about your mobility aid’s make, model, weight, and size. This helps them plan for safe loading and storage during the flight.
  • Bring the Manual: The operating manual for your mobility aid might be useful if the airline needs to refer to it.
  • Folding Mechanism: If your wheelchair or scooter folds, let the airline know and provide instructions on assembly and disassembly. This can streamline the loading process.
  • Free Mobility Equipment Allowance: Airlines typically allow passengers to bring up to two mobility items free of charge. This applies to your entire trip, not just the flight itself. So, if you need a specific mobility aid at your destination, the airline should likely accept it as one of your two free mobility items (as long as the request is reasonable).

By following these tips, you can ensure your electric mobility aid travels safely with you, and that you have the necessary assistance throughout your journey.

A Guide to Special Assistance

What is Special Assistance?

If you have a disability or reduced mobility, you’re legally entitled to free help at the airport and on your flight, known as Special Assistance. This ensures a smoother and less stressful travel experience.

Who Qualifies for Special Assistance?

This includes people with:

  • Physical disabilities (wheelchair users, etc.)
  • Difficulty moving around (elderly, temporary injury)
  • Challenges with social interaction or communication (autism, dementia)

When to Request Special Assistance

It’s best to request assistance when booking your flight (at least 48 hours in advance) through your travel agent, tour operator, or airline. This allows airports and service providers to prepare for your needs.

What Assistance is Available?

  • Help throughout the airport (check-in, baggage, security)
  • Boarding the aircraft and getting to your seat
  • Assistance during the flight (using the toilet, etc.)
  • Disembarking and transferring between flights
  • Help at your destination airport

How to Request Special Assistance

  • Airlines, travel agents, and tour operators should offer free methods to request assistance during booking.
  • Look for a “special assistance” link when booking online.
  • You may be called or asked to complete a web form.
  • Some airlines offer a free call-back option.

What Information Do You Need to Provide?

  • The specific type of assistance you require
  • Whether you use an electric mobility aid (wheelchair, scooter)
  • If you need extra care and attention

Additional Considerations

  • Ask about on-board wheelchairs for toilet use.
  • Check airport websites for walking distances to gates.
  • Inquire about boarding methods (air bridges or steps).
  • Find out about accessible toilets at the airport and on the plane.
  • Understand restrictions on electric mobility aids (battery type, etc.).
  • Ask about the airline’s policies on:
    • Oxygen carriage
    • Damaged mobility equipment compensation
    • Seat types and allocation
    • Medication restrictions at security

At the Airport

  • Look for assistance points upon arrival.
  • Special assistance staff can help you through security, to your gate, and onto the aircraft.
  • They can also help with carry-on luggage and provide identification for hidden disabilities.

Upon Arrival

  • Your mobility aid should be returned at the arrival gate unless otherwise informed.
  • Depending on the destination, assistance might be available through customs, baggage claim, and to designated arrival points.

Important Note

Passenger rights regarding special assistance vary by country. While similar rights exist in the EU and the US, many parts of the world offer limited or no such assistance.

Disclaimer: The content of this page has been provided by GOV.UK and are for general information only and are subject to change without notice.