Skip to main content

Air Travel Accessibility Issues and Stories

  • Synopsis: Published: 2008-12-29 (Revised/Updated 2010-06-24) - Air travel is not without its horror stories for disabled travelers - Able Magazine.

Main Document

Air travel is not without its horror stories for disabled travelers: broken or lost wheelchairs, refused admission onto planes, arguments over seating, begrudging assistance, airplane toilets to name but a few.

But it does seem that, little by little, improvements are being made. One recent, significant piece of legislation regarding air travel for disabled people is European Regulation No 1107/2006 on Disabled Persons and Persons of Reduced Mobility (PRMs Regulation) which was published by the European Commission on 5 July 2006.

The PRMs Regulation allows people with reduced mobility, which includes older people and those with a temporary mobility problem, greater access to air travel and ensures they receive assistance when traveling by air. It also stipulates that operators make available safety rules on carriage of passengers with reduced mobility. The regulations apply to any flight leaving an airport in the European Union, and also to flights on European airlines arriving in the EU.

The regulations came into force in two stages. Since 26 July 2007 it is now illegal for an airline, their agents and tour operators to refuse to accept a reservation on the grounds of disability or deny a disabled person board an aircraft when they have a valid ticket and reservation.

ERADICATING DISCRIMINATION Neil Betteridge, Chief Executive of Arthritis Care and chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) is hopeful that the new regulations will improve air travel for disabled passengers. "Until relatively recently it appeared that the new regulations would be woolly and fall short of what the DDA would offer," he explains. "So we argued they were not enough - that you can't have partial rights. Looking at the regulations now you would be hard pushed to see where the deficit would be between the regulations and DDA."

He feels that the regulations are strong enough to eradicate any remaining discriminatory policies. "Policies such as Ryanair's policy of imposing a maximum number of disabled people allowed on a flight are absurd," he adds. "I hope that the European regulations will pick up on and prevent random things like that."

But in spite of increased protection for disabled passengers discrimination does still occur. In May, three leaders of the European disability movement were unable to fly to Ljubljana for the Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum. The Slovenian Adria Airlines refused to let them board unless they provided a medical certificate and traveled accompanied under the pretext of safety implications.

While in June, Gregory Cronin (who has cerebral palsy) was refused access onto a Ryanair flight. Although Gregory has communication difficulties he fully understands people and has traveled all over the world on his own. Yet the Ryanair captain, who never met Gregory, decided he was too severely disabled to travel alone. Gregory says: "I notified them that I was a wheelchair user and filled in all the necessary forms. I was left on a lift outside the plane with nobody telling me what was happening. I felt humiliated, especially as this decision was made about me without ever meeting me - how disgusting to treat a human being in this way! In the end I was simply told I had to go home."

Reference: Able Magazine is a disability magazine site with a disability chat forum.



Information from our Disability Air Travel: Information for Seniors & Disabled section - (Full List).

E-Newsletter

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.


  1. Majority in Favor of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Screening
  2. When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement
  3. Sign Language Comparative List of Astronomical Words
  4. Israeli President Honors Special Education Teachers




Citation



Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.