SPECIAL NEEDS PASSENGERS
Airlines give special treatment to certain types of passengers such as children travelling alone, pregnant women, the sick, people who at certain times may have mobility problems, etc.
So that the company can offer you the appropriate help it is necessary to inform the airline of the passenger's special circumstances when making the booking and buying the ticket.
Airlines recommend women not to fly when they are over 36 weeks pregnant. In any case, before organising the journey, the passenger must consult the airline and take into account that the pregnant passenger in question may have to sign the airline's Waiver of Responsibility with regard to problems arising as a result of her condition.
Children under the age of twelve
Como regla general, deberán viajar acompañados de una persona mayor de edad. Consulte con su compañía si dispone del servicio de acompañante (un miembro de la tripulación de cabina que, previo pago a la compañía por sus servicios, estará al cuidado del menor). As a general rule, children should travel with an adult. Check with your company to see if they have a chaperone service (a member of the cabin crew who, after paying the company for their services, can take care of the minor).
If the child is five or over they can travel alone, provided that the person responsible for the minor signs a Waiver of Responsibility and guarantees that an identified adult will take charge of the child in the arrival airport.
If you are travelling with babies or young children, most companies have an activities service –books, games, etc.- and, if you request them in advance, children's meals.
Special needs passengers
The European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2006, dated 5 July 2006, concerning the rights of people with disability or reduced mobility when travelling by air comes into effect on 26 July 2008.
The articles of the Regulation apply to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, using or intending to use commercial passenger air services on departure from, on transit through, or on arrival at an airport situated in European Union territory. Likewise, the prohibition to refuse to board passengers that are disabled or have reduced mobility and the obligation to provide them with assistance is also applicable for said passengers when they are departing from an airport situated in a third country and going to an airport situated within the territory of a European Union Member State, if the airline is a Community air carrier.
A passenger with reduced mobility is any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability, age or any other cause of disability that requires special attention and the adaptation of the service made available to all passengers to his or her particular needs.
In general terms, a person is considered to have reduced mobility when he or she needs the help of another person to reach an exit door of the aircraft with appropriate speed in the case of an emergency evacuation. This also includes passengers who have serious difficulties in receiving or understanding emergency instructions.
The Regulation defines, among other aspects, the responsibility of airport managing bodies in the provision of assistance to people with reduced mobility at airports. This represents a radical change with respect to the previous model in which the airlines assumed the responsibility of providing this service through companies providing such assistance on land.
In general terms, the service or assistance to be provided to passengers with reduced mobility consists of:
- At the departure airport: Collection of the person at the Meeting Point, assisting the person with their hand luggage and accompanying the person to the check-in desk; assistance with the check-in procedures, accompanying the person to the boarding area, passing through the security checkpoints, customs, etc.; boarding the aircraft, and accompanying the person to their seat.
- At the arrival airport: Assistance with hand luggage, accompanying the person from their seat to the door of the airline and debarkation; transfer to the baggage hall, passing through the required controls, and transfer from there to the Meeting Point in the destination airport (if it is in a European Member State).
- In transits/connections the necessary assistance will be provided to successfully carry out the transit or transfer, including boarding, debarkation, transfer through the terminal, etc.
Considerations to take into account when travelling by air
Booking and request for assistance
When booking your ticket, you must provide information about your limitations and your need to receive assistance at the airport, specifying your limitations as clearly as possible. Be realistic about your needs, especially if you cannot walk long distances without help, and do not take it for granted that you will find "improvised" assistance. Only if you have requested assistance beforehand is it possible to guarantee assistance on your arrival in accordance with the quality standards.
Whenever possible, make your booking seven days in advance and, in any case, at least 48 hours prior to departure. This way you will ensure that the assistance you require will be available.
Pursuant to articles 3 and 4 of Regulation 1107/2006, of 5 July, the airlines, their agents or tour operators may exceptionally refuse, on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility, to accept a reservation from or to board a person with reduced mobility:
- In order to comply with safety requirements established by international, Community or national law . For this reason, airlines, their agents or tour operators may require at the time of booking that a disabled person or person with reduced mobility be accompanied by another person who is capable of providing the assistance required by that person.
- If the dimensions of the aircraft or its doors make boarding or travel by the person with disability or reduced mobility physically impossible.
If the booking is not accepted, an accompanying person is required or if boarding is denied for the above reasons, the airlines, their agents or tour operators shall notify the reasons immediately and, if the passenger so requests, in writing within five working days from said request.
In addition, if the booking is not accepted for the reasons indicated, the airlines, their agents or tour operators shall make reasonable efforts to propose an acceptable alternative to the passenger. And if, having accepted the booking, boarding is denied for such reasons, the airline, their agents or tour operators shall offer reimbursement of the ticket or alternative transport subject to all safety requirements, as provided for in Regulation (EC) 261/2004.
The request for assistance and the notification of needs must be made through the available booking channels of your travel agent or airline when making the booking or acquiring the ticket. Once the booking has been made, it is important to check that your request for assistance is acknowledged in the booking. If you only communicate through this channel, when arriving at the airport you should go the to the nearest Meeting Point and notify your arrival.
When making the request you must choose a meeting point where you will go on your arrival at the airport.
The airlines use internationally recognised codes to identify the level of assistance to be provided to a person with reduced mobility.
The questions that may be asked by your travel agent, the airline or the airport may appear a little indiscreet, but they are necessary to ensure that you receive the type of service that you require.
If you should cancel your booking, please notify this as quickly as possible so that another person with reduced mobility may take your place.
Arrival at the airport
In European airports there are appropriately signposted Meeting Points both inside and outside the terminals (vehicle parking, arrivals forecourt, check-in area), where people with disabilities or reduced mobility may inform of their arrival at the airport and request assistance.
In the airport, people with reduced mobility are permitted to stay in their own wheelchairs up to the door of the aircraft provided that the chair is manual and it is not necessary to go up or down stairs, as this would present a risk for staff. Otherwise, the airport will provide a wheelchair for travel and return your own wheelchair to you on your arrival at the destination.
According to current civil aviation regulations, people with disabilities and/or reduced mobility must pass the same security controls as the other passengers, with searches being carried out insofar as their condition allows.
Del mismo modo, el acceso tras los filtros de seguridad se limita a los pasajeros provistos de tarjetas de embarque aceptadas para viajes con un transportista aéreo. Por tanto, si va a necesitar ayuda detrás de los filtros de seguridad, solicite el servicio de asistencia en el aeropuerto. Also, access to areas after the security filters is limited to passengers with boarding passes that have been accepted for travel by the airline. Therefore, if you require help beyond the security filters, please request the assistance service at the airport.
With the aim of protecting you from the menace of explosive liquids, the European Union (EU) has adopted new security measures that restrict the quantity of liquids or substances of similar consistency that passengers may carry with them when passing through the airport security checkpoints. These measures are applicable to all passengers who depart from EU airports, regardless of their destination. The new regulation only affects the quantity of liquids that can be carried in hand luggage. However, there are some exceptions to the regulation. Carrying medicines (liquid) in hand luggage for use during the journey (the term "journey" means the outgoing flight, the time spent at the destination and the return flight) will be permitted and these must be presented separately at security checkpoints. Passengers are recommended to keep the medical certificate and/or prescription with them, if possible.
Similarly, if a passenger has to carry special medical equipment (syringes or other medical instruments for which transport in the aircraft cabin is restricted), their use can be accredited on passing through the passenger security filters.
When boarding the aircraft, if a folding wheelchair is used, this can be stowed in the passenger cabin if there is space. If the wheelchair has batteries, it must go in the aircraft hold during the flight for security reasons. If wheelchairs are required on board, these must be requested on booking.
Once on board, you should make sure you have all necessary medication in your hand luggage and that it would be enough in the case of delay.
If the passenger has a sensory disability, airline staff should present themselves and offer an appropriate level of service to the passenger during the flight. For example, they will explain all the emergency procedures and provide assistance with the food containers.
The cabin crew may take crutches and walking sticks off passengers prior to take-off and store them away appropriately.
If you suffer some kind of breathing disorder and need extra oxygen during the flight, the airline will provide you with oxygen on board. Some airlines charge for this service, but regulations prohibit passengers from carrying their own oxygen.
If you are travelling with a guide or assistance dog, it can board with you without any additional charge. It should be appropriately equipped with muzzle, collar and lead. If the dog is to travel in the cabin, it will be placed next to you in a place indicated by the crew. However, you must take into account national regulations on assistance dogs if you are travelling to a country other than Spain as these regulations may require the dog to travel in the hold.
The airline must make available to you the security regulations that apply to the transport of people with disability or reduced mobility in accessible formats and at least in the same languages used to provide information to other passengers.
According to international agreements, compensation for loss or damage to your personal luggage (including a wheelchair) is calculated based on the weight of the object(s) and not on their value, except when a special declaration is made, no later than the time of checking in, and a supplementary fee is paid. Before travelling, you must ensure that your travel insurance covers the equipment you need for mobility. You may need additional cover.
Please ask your airline.
If you consider that you have not received suitable treatment during the assistance provided at the airport, make a complaint or suggestion by e-mail, or make use of the complaint forms, which you will find at the airport information desks.
If you consider that your booking was not accepted or you were denied boarding without justification, you can write a letter of complaint to the airline, your agent or to the appropriate operator or use the complaint forms available at the airport.
The airlines use internationally recognised codes to identify the level of assistance to be provided to a person with reduced mobility in each case. The codes are:
WCHR: passengers who require assistance during the transfer from aircraft to terminal but are capable of boarding and moving about the aircraft alone.
WCHS: passengers who require assistance between the aircraft and terminal and on boarding but are capable of moving around the aircraft alone.
WCHC: passengers with no mobility who are not self-sufficient. They must be accompanied to their seat and need full personal assistance. If the flight lasts for over three hours, they must be accompanied.
DEAF: passengers who have hearing impairments.
BLND: passengers with vision impairments.
DEAF/BLND: passengers with hearing and vision impairments for whom an accompanying person is required.
STCR: passenger on a stretcher.
MAAS: passenger who requires assistance.
WCHP: passengers who require assistance to their seats but who are capable of moving around the aircraft in a wheelchair and are self-sufficient in their personal care.