Summary: EU legislation was put in place in 2008 to ensure that everyone, including people with vision impairments, should have the same possibilities to travel by air. The regulation ensures that assistance is provided that is adapted to your needs, from the moment you arrive at the airport to your departure. This assistance will be provided at no additional charge, by a person who has undergone disability awareness and equality training.
The highlights of the legislation
- People with disabilities and people with reduced mobility cannot be denied boarding or booking.
- Air carriers have to put measures in place to enable passengers to give pre-notification of their need for assistance.
- It is the responsibility of the airport’s managing body to ensure that people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility have access to the assistance they require in order to make their flight.
- Passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility will not have to pay for assistance that they need.
- There is a possibility that a person with disability or reduced mobility can be denied the opportunity to travel in order to meet applicable safety requirements or if the size of the aircraft or its doors makes boarding physically impossible.
- These safety reasons must be justified and the safety rules will be made publicly available in accessible formats.
- In the case of denied boarding or booking, the passenger should be offered a reasonable alternative, reimbursement or re-routing. This also applies to companions.
- A person with a disability or with reduced mobility can choose to travel alone. However, in certain circumstances, air carriers may require that a person with a disability or with reduced mobility be accompanied by another person who is capable of providing the assistance required. However, this provision was put in place to enable an airline to safely carry people with disabilities who are heavily dependent and who require intense and specialised assistance.
- You must have a valid ticket and relevant travel documents for your journey.
- You should give at least 48 hours’ notice of your need for assistance, which can be given at any of the points of sale of tickets. If advance notice is given, the airport’s managing authority will provide the assistance necessary to ensure that you make your flight. Without prior notification, they will make all reasonable efforts to provide assistance, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Responsibility of airports
The managing bodies of airports will provide the assistance and facilities necessary to enable persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility to:
- Announce their arrival at an airport and their request for assistance.
- Check in and register baggage.
- Proceed from the check-in counter to the aircraft, with completion of emigration, customs and security procedures.
- Board and disembark the aircraft, with the provision of lifts, wheelchairs or other assistance needed, as appropriate.
- Ground handling of all necessary mobility equipment, including electric wheelchairs (subject to advance warning of 48 hours and to possible limitations of space on board the aircraft).
- Communication of information needed to take flights in accessible formats.
On board the aircraft, the airport management body is responsible for helping you to your seat and for storing your hand luggage. From then until you are ready to disembark the aircraft after the flight, it is your airline that is responsible for helping you if you need assistance.
Responsibility of airlines
- To carry your guide dog in the cabin, subject to national regulations.
- In addition to medical equipment, transport of up to two pieces of mobility equipment per person with a disability or person with reduced mobility, including electric wheelchairs (subject to advance warning of 48 hours and to possible limitations of space on board the aircraft).
- Communication of essential information concerning a flight in accessible formats.
- Assistance in moving to toilet facilities if required.
Watch a video about your rights
Download the European Commission’s video about passenger rights for people with a disability whentravelling by air.
How it works at Irish airports
At Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports, a company called One Complete Solution (OCS) is in charge of providing assistance to passengers with reduced mobility.
If you need assistance, you are obliged to make a request through your airline or travel agent at least 48 hours in advance of your flight. The airline then gives OCS 36 hours’ notice that you will require assistance and what that assistance will be (wheelchair, sighted guide, etc).
Once you arrive at the airport, you can notify OCS of your arrival at one of the help points, go straight to the OCS office or check-in with the airline and OCS will meet you there. OCS is then responsible for bringing you to the gate and for getting you on the plane if necessary. Airlines are only obliged to provide assistance on the plane, not in embarking or disembarking. Once you arrive at their destination you should be asked to wait on the plane and a member of OCS (or the airport managing body if outside Ireland) will come to the plane to assist you.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation is the national enforcement body for the regulation. The commission has developed a consumer website on air passenger rights.
If you consider that your rights as an air passenger have not been respected, you should first bring the matter to the attention of the airport manager or the air carrier. If you are unsatisfied with their responses, you may lodge a complaint with the Commission for Aviation Regulation. Find out more on its website flightrights.ie.
Travelling with your Guidedog
If you need to travel with your guide dog, your air carrier must allow the animal to travel with you in the cabin provided it complies with all aspects of the ‘Pet Passport’ Rules. Find out more about the Pet Passport Scheme.