Many people agree that nowadays, flying is as easy as taking the train or bus. Yet this remains a real adventure for some travelers who have disabilities, reduced mobility or visual and auditory impairments.
The whole process of registration, passage to security etc. is much more difficult for disabled travelers who often face problems as soon as they arrive at the airport and leave the airport to reach their destination.
Many airports and airlines have specific services and assistance for travelers who use crutches, have a blind dog or are wheelchair users. However, there is always room for improvement.
Are you handicapped and traveling for the first time? Have you ever wondered how you could prepare your flight and try to avoid the problems that may arise?
Here are some tips for flying, for anyone with a disability:
1. Book a flight
When you book your flight on the internet, there is always a part where you can specify if you have any request. Here you must specify that you are traveling with a wheelchair, a walker or a guide dog. Try to give the exact size and weight of your support devices.
If you book by phone, let the operator know what you need. Remember that airlines cannot deny boarding because you are traveling with a wheelchair! In addition, EU regulations stipulate that they cannot charge for your wheelchair, walker or dog.
Be aware that electric wheelchairs with a wet battery are not allowed on board aircraft for safety reasons, as they are prone to leakage.
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2. The airport
Before you leave, you should call the airport or visit its website to find out what services it has.
See if it has disabled parking places, elevators, disabled toilets, etc…
3. Check in
Some airports have special counters for people in wheelchairs. You can check it on the airport website or call ahead.
It may also be helpful to arrive at the airport at an appropriate time so that you can find your way and avoid any setbacks. This will also give you time to check in and put the label on your wheelchair so that it will not be lost along the way and choose the best seat on the plane!
You should check in 2 hours before international flights and 90 minutes before domestic flights.
At check-in, you can specify whether you want to have priority boarding on the plane or enter last. Priority boarding will give you more time to store your carry-on baggage and take your place.
5. During the flight
One of the most important problems during a flight: the toilet …, which is the size of a matchbox!
Long-haul airplanes are usually equipped with a corridor adapted to leave enough space for wheelchairs, so you should have no problem going to the toilet. However, on medium / short-haul flights, you will probably need some help.