Disabled Rights: Air Travel
When you travel by air and you have reduced mobility or a disability (Disabled Rights Air Travel, you share exactly the same rights as any other traveller when it comes to a delay or problems with your personal belongings such as lost or damaged luggage.
As well as the regular rights that everyone is entitled to you also have additional rights which have been assigned by the Civil Aviation Authority under the Access to Air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility Regulations 2007.
This specific legislation was introduced to assist disabled travellers to ensure that they have exactly the same opportunities to travel by air as every other person does. Someone with reduced mobility or a disability should never be discriminated against. These regulations should be fully complied with throughout the EU.
Refusal of Transport
Some disabled people and those with reduced mobility fear that they may be refused transport on the grounds of their disability. Under the regulations, you cannot be denied transport because of your disability or reduced mobility unless there are genuine safety reasons for this.
When a booking is made the safety decision should be made at the time of booking. It is therefore important that disabled people or those with reduced mobility notify the transport provider that they have specific needs in terms of transport.
It is acceptable to decline a booking if this is because of safety requirements which are defined in law or the safety requirements have been outlined by a regulatory body or authority who issued the operators certificate.
Bookings can also be refused if it is impossible for the disabled person or individual with reduced mobility to safely access the plane, if for example the doors aren’t wide enough. If the booking is refused then the airline or travel agent should take all reasonable steps to find an alternative that is acceptable to the client.
Where boarding is denied due to a disability or reduced mobility, the traveller must be offered a refund or alternative to the disabled person and anyone who may be travelling with them. In the interests of safety, some airlines may require a disabled person or individual with reduced mobility to take with them someone who will be able to assist if this is required.
When you travel on an airline you may need to take with you certain medical equipment. Airlines must comply with the regulations which state that you can take up to two pieces of equipment on the flight which includes an electric wheelchair. Where you do need to carry with you medical equipment you will need to provide the airline with at least 48 hours notice.
In addition, this request is subject to there being adequate space available on the plane.
Guidance is also issued in the regulations about the needs of disabled people or those with limited mobility while they are in the airport. Airports are expected to appoint staff and equipment to ensure that the requirements of the passenger are met.
An individual with a disability or reduced mobility should be able to move easily from their arrival point to the aircraft and then from the aircraft to their place of departure with ease and minimal disruption. There also shouldn’t be any unnecessary delays.
The airport should have facilities that allows the disabled person or individual with reduced mobility to communicate that they have arrived. The process of checking in should be assisted so too should the process of boarding the plane.
Once the plane has landed at the destination, you should be assisted from your seat and then helped to disembark from the plane. Once back in the airport terminal, the disabled individual or person with reduced mobility should be assisted with the collection of their luggage and helped if they need to catch a connecting flight. Where mobility equipment is lost or damaged, temporary equipment must be supplied.
Arrangements on the Flight
The regulations also extend to your time as a passenger on the plane. If you have a disability or limited mobility, you should be helped to your seat and the airline should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the seating on the plane meets your requirements.
You should also be assisted with storing your luggage properly on the plane and offered assistance if you need to use washing facilities while on board the aircraft. If a guide dog is to accompany you on the flight, they should be permitted to travel with you unless safety reasons suggest otherwise.
Dogs who travel onboard an aircraft in the UK must have to meet the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme. Furthermore, if you are accompanied by a friend, carer or relative, the airline must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that you can sit together while you are on the flight.
Where disabled passengers or those with reduced mobility need additional support, they cannot be charged extra for the necessary support that you may need. Airlines should also provide you with the required information to help you understand the terms and conditions, making your travel experience as comfortable as possible.
If an airport fails to comply with the regulations or their obligations, you can bring this to the attention of the airline manager or airport manager. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction after an investigation, you may pursue the matter further and make a complaint to The Civil Aviation Authority.
You may be entitled to make a claim for an infringement of your rights which you can pursue through the county court. If taken to court, they have the power to award compensation which can cover injury to your feelings as well. There are strict time limits for making a claim; typically this is six months from the date of when the infringement of your rights occurred.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.