Traveling abroad can be a daunting experience for anyone, but if you have a disability you may feel even more anxious about it. Many people with disabilities have avoided the stress of airports by simply not flying in favour of road and sea, but more recently, certain international guidelines have made traveling with a disability a little more consistent.
This blog serves to answer a few of the questions that might be going through your head as a disabled first time flyer. But I would always suggest calling the airport and the airline you’re flying with to get confirmation on essential requirements.
Can I book car parking near the terminal?
The majority of car parks offer blue badge parking but some are better than others. As it so happens, Trusted Travel have built a service, exclusively through www.disabledliving.co.uk, to offer a unique search function that prioritises ‘recommended’ car parks for disabled travelers. As well as this, you get a 10% discount on parking, lounges and hotels, plus free cancellation cover and free SMS notifications to boot! No problem!
Does my wheelchair count as baggage?
No it doesn’t. You should get a tag for your wheelchair so it doesn’t get mixed up if it’s coming on the flight with you. If you are unable to walk at all you will need to make this known when booking your flight and at every reasonable opportunity until you check in as the airport will supply you with an aisle chair in this case. Bear in mind you are entitled to two mobility items neither of which count towards your luggage allowance. It's also advisable to ensure your chair is covered under your travel insurance just in case
Should I pre-book my seat?
You can, however bear in mind, particularly if there is a charge for the service, that you may be required to sit elsewhere according to the individual airline policy for disabled travelers. It is usually best to see what options are available upon check in and as a good rule of thumb, arrive at the terminal early to ensure you get the attention you need and the best choices the airline can offer.
Will my needs be taken care of?
Unfortunately this varies massively depending on the airport, airline, and people. Whilst most staff members will have received training about helping disabled travelers, some are more experienced, and some are frankly more tactful. But by and large you shouldn’t go through any more aggravation than able-bodied travelers do. Traveling is stressful and tensions are high all round, try your best to remain calm and empathic and you’ll have a better journey
Can I travel alone?
If you are unable to do certain tasks yourself (for example using the toilet), then you will need to travel with a companion. Airlines are generally sensitive to this and will ensure you are sat together, near toilets etc as per your individual needs.
Just be as prepared as you can to ensure your own personal comfort. For me personally, getting out of my seat even on a 10-hour flight is so annoying that I just try to not drink anything so I don’t have to visit the loo at all. Bad advice by all accounts but there you go. But the point is, if you’re going to be sat in a cramped seat for a long time and mobility is an issue for you, make sure you have your creature comforts and any essentials. Pain relief, urine bottle for emergencies, pillows, a good book, sweeties, headphones, eye shades etc. And most importantly, remember that it’s only a temporary disruption as you zoom towards your adventure in the sun!
Visit DisabledLiving.co.uk here: www.disabledliving.co.uk