Air travel and disability
Airports are responsible for helping people with disabilities or with reduced mobility to board, disembark and transfer between flights. Help on board an aircraft is the responsibility of the airline.
Getting help from airlines and airports
If you have a disability or reduced mobility, it is a legal right to get the help you need. This should be booked from the airline you're flying with, or from a travel agent or tour operator you booked your trip with.
You should give airlines and airports as much notice as possible. This allows them to make any necessary arrangements for your journey.
This usually means telling them about your needs when you're making your flight booking.
Each of the main airports in Northern Ireland has information for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility on their websites:
- Special Assistance - Belfast International Airport
- Special Assistance - George Best Belfast City Airport
- Special Assistance - City of Derry Airport
If you plan to fly out of Dublin airport, visit the help and support section on its website:
The Civil Aviation Authority also has information about getting special assistance at airport if you have a disability.
If you're travelling with an assistance or guide dog, airlines are required to carry your dog in the cabin free of charge.
Your rights as an air passenger
The Consumer Council has information for air passengers who need special assistance when travelling.
It also has information about additional charges airlines might charge you and help to let you to make informed decisions when arranging travel.
You can find out too about your rights as an air passenger.
There is also information about your rights and responsibilities when travelling by air in the Aviation Passenger Charter.
If you are not self-sufficient
With safety in mind, an airline can demand that you travel with a companion if you are not self-sufficient. This includes being able to open your own seatbelt, put your own oxygen mask on, or if you're able to evacuate the aircraft on your own in an emergency.
It also includes being able to administer your own medicines and medical procedures, and if you need help with eating or using the toilet.
Don't claim that you are self-sufficient if you are not. You may cause yourself and the airline serious problems because they will be unable to meet your basic needs.
Always pack your medication in your hand luggage where possible, in case your main luggage goes missing.
The Inclusive Mobility Transport Advisory Committee (Imtac) has a factsheet on travelling by air for people with disabilities.