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.

If you are hearing or visually impaired, you may wish to tell staff at check in and the gate, so that you don't miss announcements or changes to departure display screens.

Key tips

  • Arrive early for your departure. If a disability makes queuing difficult, make yourself known to check in staff – they must provide assistance.
  • Confirm pre-booked assistance when you check in. Ensure that onboard staff are made aware of any concerns you may have.
  • Online check in – you should be able to confirm the assistance you require and select the most appropriate seat.
  • Self-service check in – staff should be available to help you.
  • Security checks are made on all disability equipment and mobility aids, including wheelchair gel cushions. Make security staff aware of your needs.
  • If you need to carry liquid medicines or medical equipment in your hand luggage, you will need a letter from your doctor to show at security. Your doctor may charge for this letter.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dog owners can bring their dogs out of and into the UK on many air, sea or rail routes, providing it is an ‘approved route’ and that all requirements of the EU Pet Travel Scheme are fully met.

The Civil Aviation Authority requires assistance dogs carried in the cabin to be correctly harnessed on take-off/landing, not to obstruct emergency exits and to be accredited by Guide Dogs for the Blind or another approved organisation. Access to Air Travel for Disabled People – Code of Practice contains more info.