Last updated:19th April 2016

Air travel

Always tell your airline, travel agent or tour operator if you need assistance when you travel when you book.

Under European law, disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility have legal rights to assistance when travelling by air. It's important to let airlines know your needs at least 48 hours before you travel. If you don't then you risk not getting the help you need and may even be unable to board the plane. However, even if no notification is given, airports are still required to make all reasonable efforts to provide assistance.

Services for disabled passengers

These services should be available at all European airports if you have a disability which affects your mobility when using transport:

  • Facilities to summon assistance at designated arrival points, such as at terminal entrances and in car parks
  • Assistance to reach check-in
  • Help with registration at check-in
  • Assistance with moving through the airport, including going to the toilets if required
  • Help with getting on and off the plane
  • Free transport of medical equipment and up to 2 items of mobility equipment
  • A briefing for you and any escort or companion on emergency procedures and the layout of the cabin
  • Help with stowing and retrieving baggage on the plane
  • Assistance with moving to the toilet on the plane (some planes will have an on-board wheelchair)
  • Someone to meet you off the plane and help you reach connecting flights or get to the next part of your journey

Seating on the plane

Airlines should allow you to choose the seat most suitable for your needs. However, people with reduced mobility are not allowed to sit in seats where they may obstruct access to emergency exits.

Additional seats

If you need to travel with a companion, the airline should make all reasonable efforts to seat them next to you. Some airlines may be able to offer a reduced fare for the second ticket. This will usually be a reduction against the full fare.

There may be a limit on the number of reduced fares they can offer on one flight, especially if it is a holiday package or charter flight. Ask your travel agent or the airline for more details.

The same restriction may apply in cases where the traveller needs to occupy two seats for a reason related to their disability.

Where reduced fares are offered, airlines may require medical proof of your need to travel with a companion or book an extra seat. You should ask the airline or your travel agent what information you will need to give. This could be a letter from your doctor or a Blue Badge parking permit, for example.

Airline forms

If you have any medical needs, the airline may ask you to complete the following standard forms before you travel:

  • Incapacitated Passengers Handling Advice (INCAD)
  • Medical Information (MEDIF)

The airline will be able to give you any forms they require you to complete. You can also get these forms from some travel agents.

The forms help staff organise any assistance or equipment you may need during your journey and to decide whether you are fit to fly. With some airlines, the INCAD and MEDIF are two parts of the same form.

You can fill in the INCAD form yourself, but the MEDIF form must be completed by your doctor.
Most people don't have to fill in the MEDIF form. This includes people who have stable, long-term disabilities and medical conditions.

You should contact the airline and discuss your disability or medical condition with them, even if your doctor says you are fit to fly. This is because different airlines have different policies about carrying disabled passengers and people with medical conditions.