Travellers may face unforeseen challenges during a trip, but travellers with a disability or reduced mobility may encounter additional obstacles. That is why the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) built up the page. If you are travelling with a disability or reduced mobility, it will give you some helpful advice for flying safely.

The category under the CASA’s website delivers information and advice based on four sections, including:

  • Boarding your flights
  • planning for travel with a disability
  • travel with assistance dogs
  • wheelchairs and mobility aids.

Boarding your flights

Most airlines provide passengers with disabilities with assistance before, during and after the flight lands.

Generally, airlines allow people with a disability or reduced mobility to board before other passengers. The trained crew can assist with boarding using ramps if necessary.

Once onboard, trained staff can help you reach your seat or transfer from your wheelchair to your seat. The cabin crew will also store your wheelchair in a designated safe area.

When disembarking the plane, airline staff will typically suggest you wait until other passengers have exited. The airline staff can also assist in getting you to the new boarding gate if you have a connecting flight.

Planning for travellers with a disability

Having a detailed plan can make for a more enjoyable trip, especially when we have additional considerations such as accessibility. It’s important to research the accessibility of the airline we choose, accessible hotel options, where to rent accessible vehicles, and other pertinent details.

Our other post features many practical tips for accessible travel and transportation. Additionally, the ultimate travel guide to the US provides detailed information on preparing and planning for a stress-free and enjoyable journey.

Travel with assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted to accompany their owners in an aircraft cabin. Before travelling, you must provide the airline with proof that your assistance dog has been trained, or is currently being trained, by an approved organisation.

Approved dog training organisations must be accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by Section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, comply with the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 (Qld), and meet or exceed the minimum standards set by Assistance Dogs International.

For dogs trained overseas or trained by their owners, proof of training that meets the standards of Assistance Dogs or that the training method is appropriate is also acceptable.

When you are at the airport, your assistance dog must wear an identifying coat and always be with you. Having the required proof documents with you is important. You must demonstrate that your dog has passed a public access test (PAT). If you are your dog’s trainer, you must also carry documentation that identifies you as an approved trainer.

In addition, airlines must provide reasonable accommodations for assistance dogs, including adequate space and allowing them to relieve themselves during the flight.

Tips and information for travellers with a disability

Wheelchairs and mobility aids

As outlined in the ultimate guide to air travel with a disability in the US, it’s important to contact airlines before travelling to determine which is best suited for your needs based on the accessible services they provide.

The questions we can ask the airlines include the following:

  • what the aircraft type is
  • if an accessible toilet and an aisle chair are available
  • how to get on board
  • how to transfer between chairs
  • how to disassemble and reassemble your wheelchair

When travelling by air, you must check in your wheelchair or mobility aid as checked luggage at the airport. After requesting a gate check tag, the ground crew will ensure that your wheelchair or mobility aid is at the gate when the aircraft arrives.

Be sure to clearly label all equipment and remove any parts that could come loose during transit, keeping them with you as carry-on luggage. If possible, use gel or dry-cell batteries instead of acid-filled ones, and disconnect and remove any visible battery wires.

Attaching instructions to your wheelchair can help the crew disassemble and assemble it, and carrying essential maintenance tools can help you deal with potential emergencies during your trip.

We have outlined four key sections that travellers with disabilities should consider ensuring a safe and accessible air trip. For more information on this topic, please visit CASA’s website. Additionally, I would like to introduce our Family & Peer Support team, who can help you with practical advice and lived experiences with physical disabilities.

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