Accessing special assistance at the airport

It is up to you to find out how to request help. Airlines, travel agents and tour operators should provide a free method of requesting assistance when you book (or at later stage). You may be asked about about special assistance during the booking process but this isn't  standard practice so you may need to make a request. 

When should I check in?

Airlines usually specify times for checking in and getting to the departure gate. They may recommend a slightly longer time frame for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility, so be sure to confirm this in advance of your flight.

Assistance points

When you arrive at the airport you should go to one of the assistance points in the terminal.

Assistance points will usually have some type of disability related logo, and include a buzzer or telephone to enable you to call for assistance should they not be staffed at that time.

Airports must locate assistance points at various places in the airport boundary and this may include drop off points, car parks, train stations and bus terminals. If you park at a medium/long term car park you will usually need to make your own way to the terminal using the airport's bus service. In the UK, these vehicles are generally accessible in terms of having a ramp so that people in wheelchairs can board.

There should be signs in the airport to where the “Special Assistance” help desk is.

Staff at assistance points can help with:

  • taking you to a designated “special assistance” area in the terminal building.
  • getting to check-in and bag drop (if required).
  • going through security, into the departure lounge and to the departure gate.

Alternatively a companion can push you in an airport provided wheelchair through the airport and up to the departure gate.

  • If you have your own wheelchair or electric mobility aid you should be able to use your own equipment right up to the departure gate.

Many airports have a designated area in the departure lounge where you can wait until your flight is called.


Special assistance staff can help you travel through the departure gate and on to the aircraft. They will also help you get to your seat and with stowing your carry on bags if required.

To assist with this process, different equipment may be used. These include ambi-lifts (also referred to as high lifts), ramps, and small “transfer” wheelchairs which are used on the aircraft.

At your destination airport

On arrival, your wheelchair or mobility aid should be returned to you at the arrival gate, unless there are extenuating reasons.

You are entitled to assistance through immigration, customs, baggage reclaim, and all the way to the designated arrival point. This will include some car parks, train stations, drop off points.

Resolving travel problems

If you experience any problems with your assistance which are not satisfactorily resolved at the time, we recommend asking if you can take the name of your attendant, and then raise the matter with the airline / airport.

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