Top tips for disabled and less mobile air passengers

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Individuals using a service

Which countries is it relevant to?

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Your passport to a smooth journey

The top tips are the excerpt from the booklet ‘Your Passport to a Smooth Journey’ published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This page explains your rights and what to do to make sure you have the best chance of a smooth journey. You can download the booklet from the link on the right.

Before you book your flight

Airlines, travel agents or tour operators must make all reasonable efforts to provide assistance, even if requested at the last minute.

Tell your airline, travel agent or operator what assistance you need when you book, or at least 48 hours before you are due to travel. Ask for written confirmation of any assistance arrangements made.

All staff who deal with customers are legally required to have disability awareness training and to know how to meet your needs.

To make your journey as smooth as possible make it clear that you require assistance because of your disability or mobility requirements and be clear about what you need. If the person dealing with you does not seem to be able to help, ask to see the airline’s policies. Be persistent but polite and, if necessary, ask to speak to a manager.

In the airport

Airports must provide free assistance to enable disabled and less mobile passengers to check in, get to and from the toilet where required and get to their flight.

To make your journey as smooth as possible find out what will happen before you board the plane. Get a name and contact details of who can help if there are any problems along the way. This will be particularly important in the event of delay.

The amount of compensation you can receive for anything that happens on board an aircraft is limited to compensation for death or injury and for lost baggage. The courts are currently unable to award compensation for injury to feelings because of restrictions in the Montreal Convention that governs liability of airlines for losses and personal injury on international and domestic passenger flights.

If you don’t receive the assistance you’re entitled to, complain straight away to the airport or airline. You can also make a complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Making a complaint

The Equality and Human Rights Commission does not deal with complaints about access to air travel. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the complaints handler in England, Scotland and Wales for complaints from disabled air passengers and persons with reduced mobility.

How to contact the CAA

  • Website:
  • Consumer Advice Line: 020 7453 6888 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm). If you are Deaf or hearing impaired, please contact via Typetalk.
  • Fax: 020 7453 6754
  • Email:
  • Post: Passenger Advice and Complaints Team, Civil Aviation Authority, 4th Floor, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE

Last updated: 22 Apr 2016

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.