Flying with a disability
Earlier this year we attended a Tryb4ufly event held with the support of Edinburgh Airport. The whole day was extremely interesting and informative. From discussing various topics and demonstrating available mobility equipment to event attendees sharing knowledge and top tips from their own experiences of flying with reduced mobility. Tryb4uFly is an organisation that provides disabled people and carers with the opportunity to experience seating and transfer options in a realistic fuselage setting.
The morning kicked off with talks from various speakers. The topics covered booking, insurance, safe carriage of your wheelchair, being fit to fly & medicines, hiring equipment abroad, check in & security, boarding the aircraft, managing challenging behaviours, aircraft seating, airport facilities, hidden disabilities & using the toilet. As well as these speakers, representatives from airlines and organisations were on hand throughout the day to answer any questions.
Traveling abroad can be an amazing, exciting, exotic experience. Visiting new places, trying different cuisines, meeting new people and most importantly for us living in Britain – sunshine and warmer weather! However, planning a holiday can be complicated and stressful, even more so if you require assistance or support. The aim of this blog is to highlight important topics and link to organisations and sources of support available to those who want to fly with reduced mobility.
Firstly, you may have to check that you have medical clearance to fly, if you have any questions about your ability to fly, check out the Civil Aviation Authority FAQ’s on or contact your GP or Consultant for advice.
What assistance is available to me?
If you have a disability of any kind or your mobility is reduced, there are a range of services that can help you. Special Assistance is offered by both airports and airlines. You can arrange this when you make your booking or at least 48 hours before travel. The information will then be given to the relevant airports and airlines. Additionally, you might want to contact the airport and airline to confirm the special assistance before you arrive on the day. If you don’t give advance notice you could experience delays and may not receive the service that you need.
On arrival, you should head straight to the assistance point. These points can usually be identified with a disability related logo. Assistance points can be found at various locations throughout the airport. All major airports in Scotland have an access guide or access information on their website, so you can know what to expect. It can be a good idea to read this before you travel.
Edinburgh Airport access information
Glasgow Airport access information
Prestwick Airport access information
Aberdeen Airport access information
Highlands and Islands Airport access information
The Accessible Travel Hub provides a comprehensive list of airlines and airports within the UK and abroad, linking to their individual Special Assistance website sections.
Special assistance staff can support you throughout your journey. They can help you check in, and use bag drop, get through security, travel through the departure gate, get on to the aircraft, transfer to your seat and help you stow away any hand luggage. During the Tryb4ufly event, different transfer options were demonstrated in a replica aircraft cabin. It gave individuals a chance to see what options are available and how a smooth transfer should go within such a small space!
Travelling with equipment and assistance animals.
If you have your own wheelchair or electric mobility aid you should be able to use this until you reach the departure gate or aeroplane. Once you arrive at your destination, your wheelchair or mobility aid should be returned to you at the arrival gate.
You can travel with up to 2 items of mobility equipment free of charge if you’re disabled. This won’t count as part of your baggage allowance. Prior to booking your journey, you should check with to see if they have any restrictions in place to ensure you will be able to fly with your equipment.
A top tip mentioned on the day was to take the operating manual with you, which contains useful instructions on how to dismantle the equipment.
The British Healthcare Trades Association provide an extensive list of mobility products complete with information on their suitability for flying and brief instructions on how to inhibit circuits.
If you are on prescription medication, take a list of this with you. You may require a doctor’s note if the liquid, gel or cream medication is above 100 ml. Another top tip from the floor was to include your medication in your hand luggage and not to check it in at the bag drop.
It can be possible to travel with your assistance dog. For further information see the Civil Aviation Authority website
The Scottish Autism resource, ‘going on holiday’ is an informative guide to planning and taking a holiday when you or someone you care for lives with Autism.
Bladder and Bowel UK were on hand at the event to talk about various options available for incontinence whilst flying.
Additionally, The Bladder and Bowel Foundation guide Travelling with Confidence provides information, advice and top tips.
The British Lung Foundation provide information on traveling with a lung condition.
Seat Guru is a website that provides seat maps of the aeroplane and features seat reviews. It also provides information on in-flight amenities and airline specific information.
Travelling abroad and flying with reduced mobility can seem complicated, but there are options available for you, with many organisation who offer advice, support and assistance on the topics we have covered above and more.