If you are a person with reduced mobility and travel is on your wish list, you may feel daunted at the prospect.
But don’t let those doubts stop you. There are lots of ways to make your trip seamless and hassle-free.
Read our guide for tips on how to travel with reduced mobility and medical aids. You’ll be planning that next trip before you’ve got to the end of our article!
Know your rights
Our first tip for travel with reduced mobility is to know your rights. If you have a disability or your mobility is reduced, then you are entitled to free 'Special Assistance’ when travelling by air.
People who can benefit from this could be:
- Wheelchair users
- Have a physical disability
- Have communication difficulties, which could be the result of dementia or autism, for example
Special assistance is applicable when:
- You are flying on any airline from an airport in the UK
- You are flying on a UK or EU-registered airline to an airport in the UK
- You are flying from outside the UK or EU to the EU on a UK airline
To book special assistance, contact your airline 48 hours before your flight.
What kind of medical equipment and mobility aids can I take?
First, check with your airline what their rules are about medical equipment and mobility aids.
If you use an electric wheelchair or other mobility aid, you will need to provide details about its specifications.
If you need to take large amounts of medication, you may need to provide a medical certificate. This is a must if you intend to take more than 100ml of liquid medicine through security.
And if you use oxygen, contact your airline to understand their policy. If you are thinking of taking your own oxygen cylinders, know that most companies don’t allow their equipment to be taken out of the UK.
In this case, you can take portable concentrators or use oxygen provided by the airline, which must be booked in advance.
What should I do when I get to the airport?
Know in advance when you should check in to your flight. For passengers with reduced mobility or disabilities, airlines may require extra time.
When you arrive at the airport, look for the assistance point. Here, a designated member of staff can help you with the entire process of checking in, going through security and boarding the plane.
If you use a wheelchair, you can use your own chair up to the departure gate or check it in and use one provided by the airport.
You can find out more about accessing special assistance at the airport here.
What happens when I get to my destination airport?
Your wheelchair or mobility aid will be returned to you at the arrival gate.
You should be offered assistance through passport control, customs and baggage reclaim, and possibly up to the airport car park, taxi rank or train or bus station.
The level of provision may vary from country to country and airport to airport.
What about ‘fitness to fly’?
When you request special assistance, you may be asked to provide proof of fitness to fly. In many cases, all you will need to do is provide information about your condition.
Sometimes an airline will ask you to provide further details about how flying could affect your condition. You may also be asked for a letter from a doctor to confirm that it’s safe for you to fly.
What if I have hidden disabilities?
If you have a hidden disability, you can request an identifying lanyard or badge from the special assistance desk or you may wish to purchase your own ID in advance.
Is there help for other forms of transport?
If you’re travelling by train or bus, you are also entitled to support. For example, passenger assistance must be offered at rail stations, and buses carrying over 22 passengers must comply with regulations that allow easy access to vehicles, such as using ramps or lifts.
Check out the rights of disabled passengers on transport to know more.
Organisation is key
Our final tip is to be organised when it comes to planning your trip. Ensure you have any paperwork such as medical certificates, your itinerary, travel insurance details and emergency contact numbers printed out.
If you’re flying, book special assistance well in advance and know what to expect once you reach your destination. Make sure you arrive at the airport or other transport hub well in advance of departure.
Find the right travel insurance UK
Long before you land, you should have adequate travel insurance in place for extra peace of mind.
Check out our travel insurance compare service as soon as you’ve booked your ticket to find the right policy for you.
You can even find a policy for pre-existing medical conditions or for the over 60s, so you can be sure that you’ll get the right level of cover for your needs.
And if you’d prefer to speak to one of our professional advisors, contact us to talk through your needs. We are only too happy to help make your longed-for trip a stress-free experience!