Embarking on flights to distant destinations could be challenging! Especially, those with less mobility or disability have a lot to heed before leaving. The article outlines useful info and tips for disabled passengers contemplating flights to India.
Air passengers with disabilities have the right to avail extra services at the airports and in flights. These facilities are also available for individuals requiring extra help due to their age or due to a temporary illness or injury causing restricted mobility.
Special assistance holds more significance if it is a long haul travel; for example flights to India. A long haul flight can be quite a nightmare for differently-abled passengers in the absence of right assistance especially flying to destinations which do not have a direct flight. For example, many airlines operate direct flights to India connecting to some popular cities only from London Heathrow. This means a connecting flight if flying from other UK airports.
In order to avail needed assistance, travellers with any disability must inform the airline of their needs at least 48 hours before boarding the flight.
Mobility assistance at the Airport
Mobility assistance ensures an easy movement at the airport. By availing the mobility assistance, disabled travellers can get help and transport for moving around the airport. Besides, visually impaired passengers can also get a guide for assistance during security checks.
Assistance While Boarding the Flight
Airlines and airports also offer on-board assistance to disabled passengers who are normally called for boarding first. In addition to this, less mobile holiday makers can avail the service of air-bridge for easy access into the cabin. The airports also provide the facility of wheel chair for transferring the less mobile passenger to their seat; however the request must be made in advance.
Passengers with Powered Wheelchair
Disabled travellers who wish to take their battery-powered wheelchair or any other mobility aid in aircraft must inform the airline before travel. Since battery-powered devices can be a fire risk onboard the flight, the airline has to be given operating and technical instructions for making the device safe for carriage. If the wheelchair has a gel cushion, you need to get security clearance for using it during flight.
Travellers with Assistance Dog
The assistance dogs are specifically trained to assist a disabled person and are qualified by the charitable organisations registered as members of Assistance Dogs (UK).
Disabled passengers can travel with their assistance dogs in the aircraft but they must inform and get permission from the airline. The assistance dog needs to comply with rules of the Pet Travel Scheme, run by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
Can Airline deny extra assistance?
Usually most airlines offer extra assistance for the comfort of disabled or less mobile air travellers. However, there are chances when airlines may refuse to accept your reservation or allow you to board the aircraft.
- When a traveller doesn’t inform the booking agent, tour operator or airline about their disability at least 48 hours before travel.
- Due to safety reasons, airline may prohibit the use of battery-powered wheelchairs if the aircrafts are not equipped with safety features.
- If the aircraft doors are too small, your airlines may refuse you to carry the mobility aid.
When making a booking with the airline or the travel agent, be specific about the kind of disability you have for them to make right arrangements for you.
Though, most disabled passengers do not have to get a medical certificate, certain airlines may seek evidence of fitness before travel to satisfy themselves in this regard.
Remember, airports in India may not be able to match the standards of the UK airports when it comes to facilities and care for disabled travellers.
Those seeking tickets on cheap flights should connect to major airports such as Delhi, Mumbai etc. Besides offering cheap flights to India these airports offer better disabled passenger friendly services.
It’s good to look for cheap flights, but prefer to fly direct when flying India for more convenience. Most cheap flights to India that fly direct connect to country’s major hubs like Delhi and Mumbai.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance suitable to your special needs.
Communicate to airlines your needs for all parts of the journey – at departure, in-flight, at stopovers and on arrival in India.
Those with any hearing or visual disability must tell the airline and airport staff of the same so as to not miss any announcements or changes to flight.
Label all your baggage, equipment, batteries and hand luggage appropriately for swift access to them at the Indian airports or to pick them on return to the UK.
Arrive early; airlines usually board wheelchair users first; they are also usually disembarked last.
For special non-standard wheelchairs, ask the crew for it to be brought at the door on arrival to India to avoid getting one of the standard wheelchairs.
Stick clear instructions to any electronic equipment on how and where to disconnect the batteries etc for the handlers to make the equipment swiftly available for you at arrival in India.