International flights (long-haul)
Remember, if you have a permanent and stable disability you do not require medical clearance to travel. However, some airlines may ask for medical clearance and may want assurance that you can attend to personal needs, such as feeding yourself onboard, or using the toilet. Crew onboard are not required to provide this type of assistance.
You and your doctor may need to complete a Medical Information Form (MEDIF), valid for one trip and only for the travel arrangements shown on your ticket. Frequent travellers with a stable condition may be able to obtain a Frequent Travellers’ Medical Card (FREMEC) – a permanent record of your specific needs.
Accessible travel tips from Fika Safaris:
- Try to pre-book a seat on your chosen airline – check the terms and costs of pre-booking.
- Find out about toilet accessibility and special dietary requirements.
- Explain your needs clearly to the airline you fly with.
Arriving for departure
Point of departure
Finding your way around an airport, port or station can be tricky – a bit of planning can help. In advance, try to find out about the layout and the distances involved, for instance from arrival point to check in, departure lounges to gates etc. And make sure you know where help points are situated where you can make your arrival known. Help points should be clearly marked.
If you use a wheelchair, you may be allowed to stay in your own chair to the boarding gate (depending on the type/severity of your disability and if your wheelchair can be loaded at the gate). If not, you will be transferred to a boarding wheelchair and your own chair checked in. Wheelchair users are usually boarded first, and you can ask to be pre-boarded.
European regulations require airlines and cruise companies to carry a certain amount of equipment free of charge. Your travel agent, tour operator or transport provider can advise whether you can travel with the equipment you need, for instance battery-powered wheelchairs, portable machines, respirators or oxygen. Some airlines won’t accept certain types of batteries (e.g. wet cell) or oxygen cylinders as these are a fire risk and are covered by dangerous goods regulations. Consider if equipment can be safely checked in as long as you have it immediately on disembarking.
Remember to pack any necessary equipment such as spare inner tubes and wheelchair tools, a voltage converter (check the voltage before you travel), an adaptor plug and a transformer. Ask your travel agent about packing procedures; you may be asked about the make and type of your equipment, and there may be forms to complete.
Planning ahead and pre-notifying your travel company can help ensure that you travel with what you need and that mobility equipment arrives safely.
Airlines must make all reasonable efforts to meet the needs of disabled passengers when allocating seats at check in and onboard. Pre-notify your accessibility requirements if you want to ensure you get the best seat for your needs.
Always try to pre-book a seat on your chosen transport, especially if you need to be seated together with a companion. Remember, different transport providers, particularly airlines, have different policies; check the terms and costs of pre-booking. Find out about toilet accessibility and special dietary requirements.
Remember that other disabled passengers may have a greater need for particular seats, and that aircraft can be changed at short notice – it may not be possible to honour a particular seat request if the seat configuration changes.
Part of this information is collected from the website of the Association of British Travel Agents (www.abta.com).