Anyone with mobility issues may find a trip to the airport a stressful experience, particularly if you are given little assistance from airline officials. However, knowing your rights ahead of time can ensure you get the service you deserve.
An EU regulation was introduced in 2008 stating that all airports and airlines have to provide free services to anyone with disabilities and reduced mobility. It does however, allow airport management to charge the airline based on true costs and this may be a small charge that is passed on to passengers within taxes and charges.
What are you entitled to?
Under the terms of the regulation, an air carrier is unable to refuse carriage on grounds of disability or reduced mobility. You are officially entitled to get assistance when departing, arriving or transiting through an EU airport on a commercial air service and it doesn’t matter if you’re arriving in the EU from an airport outside the EU as long as the airline is an EU licensed carrier.
Vitally, the assistance you receive should be free of charge. This assistance should include a check-in, transiting and boarding the plane; as well as getting to your seat and disembarking on a plane and proceeding to baggage hall or connecting flights. If there are any problems with lost or damaged wheelchairs or mobility equipment then you are entitled to compensation as outlined under the Montreal Convention.
How can you help?
To ensure everything runs smoothly, it will help if you work in co-operation with the airlines or travel agents to get the service you need. Try to advise them at least 48hrs in advance that you require assistance and request it at the time of booking.
Once you are at the airport, present yourself at one of the designated points – details should be available on the airport’s website. Make sure you are prepared, at the airport on time, and that you follow any advice that is outlined on the website.
Remember that the airline should allow you to transport up to two pieces of mobility equipment including electric wheelchairs and medical equipment. Airlines should attempt to arrange seating on request and ensure an accompanying passenger is seated next to the person who requires assistance.
Of course whether you have mobility issues or not, any problems you encounter at the airport are always easier to stomach if you know you have got a good deal to start with.