The majority of airlines will offer airport assistance for passengers who are less able to get themselves around the airport and staff are usually more than happy to help. But more often than ever before we are seeing articles in high-profile publications from passengers that have been overlooked or made to feel like they are not worthy of the assistance.

Jason from Kent was travelling to Germany with his family and had booked airport assistance, but was overlooked by staff waiting with the wheelchair; “I was sat there waiting for them to bring over the wheelchair but the staff member was scanning the room, quite obviously looking for someone who looked disabled. I have a nerve disease which means some days I have limited mobility and others I can’t move at all, but because I was sat normally in a chair, I was made to feel ashamed and unworthy of the help”.

Hidden disabilities include autism, dementia, hearing loss, multiple sclerosis, brittle bone syndrome and other conditions that may not be immediately obvious.

Back in 2018 a report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) highlighted the progress airports had made to the assistance they offer, and the improvements that were still needed.

The stigma of ‘not looking disabled’ is one that will take some time to abolish, however with the help of the CAA UK airports are suggesting positive changes that can be made to ensure those travelling by air, regardless of their condition, are treated fairly.

These changes include disability awareness training courses for staff, consultations with disability organisations and introducing assistance security lanes. A record number of people with hidden disabilities are now choosing to travel by air, and airport assistance should be a help not a hinderance.

But what assistance is on offer for passengers with any form of disability?

According to the CAA website, passengers should alert the airline of any requirements at least 48-hours prior to departure and are entitled to help from the moment they arrive at the airport. This assistance includes:

  • Assistance with the journey through the departure airport
  • Boarding the aircraft and any assistance during the flight
  • Leaving the aircraft
  • Transferring between flights and the journey through the destination airport.

It is important to note; the above assistance requirements may vary outside of the EU so check with the airline for the individual support they offer.

As well as checking for airline assistance, those travelling with a hidden disability, or any existing medical condition, should ensure they are taking out appropriate travel insurance cover. Completing a medical declaration can be tricky, which is why we have put together this guide, but by having the right travel insurance cover consumers can rest assure that should anything go wrong on holiday they will be protected.