Air travel is important for everyone, but some groups of travelers encounter obstacles both regarding the means of transport/aircraft itself and with the infrastructure of the different airports and terminals.
Air travel is a constantly growing mode of transportation. In 2018 alone there were about 33,6 million air travels taken in, from or to Norway. This is an increase of more than six times since 1981. With a growth like this, there is also an increase in the need for facilitation and universal accessibility of both the aircraft and the airport and terminal. In addition, there is also a need to be able to plan the trip with sufficient information available which will give everyone the same access to air travel.
In this chapter there will be presented a analysis of the laws, recommendations and experiences within the field of universal design of air travel based on how the situation is seen today.
According to the National Travel Habit Research from 2013/2014, has more than half the population of Norway used air travel for longer destinations (more than 100 km) the last month, and for trips of more than 300 km is air travel the dominant mode of transportation.
Air travel has an increasing importance within the collective transportation system, and it is important for a large percentage of the population. Furthermore, if one looks at the barriers that a person with a disability encounters during travels, air travel is one of the most prominent.
An increase in complications regarding air travel could lead to the decision to exclude this mode of transportation for many people with a disability. Further on, we will have a look at how this might have great consequences for the individual.
In the article Disabling public transport? (“Funksjonshemmende kollektivtransport?”) there is discussion of how the lack of access to public transport can lead to reduced social participation, larger difficulties with involvement in organizations and an increased isolation. Furthermore, this underlines the importance of universal design within air travel.
Regarding air travel for people with a disability, it is shown that on average there is a greater difficulty with movement inside the aircraft than in the airport.
“Difficulty with getting to or from the place of departure, with boarding the mode of transportation and with the conditions onboard the vehicle itself does not create the same level of difficulties for everyone (Figure V2.c in appendix 2). While the conditions onboard the vehicle are more problematic regarding air travel and ferries, the issue of boarding and leaving the mode of transportation is more prominent within travels by bus and train.”
Despite this, it is important to consider that a trip by air travel is more than simply the flight itself. Planning the trip, the airports, air travel and further transportation can in many situations create problems where there is a lack of accessibility.
Regarding people with a disability, both boarding and disembarking of the aircraft, as well as movement within the plane, might be a source of complications.
Regarding people with a cognitive disability, there is an observed increase in complications with air travel compared to other disabilities. In the article “Living conditions among people with a cognitive disability” (“Levekår blant personer med kognitive vansker”) one can find information about the difficulties that might arise in such a situation. Particularly regarding the acquirement of sufficient information during the trip.
Furthermore, we will look at the rights one has as a traveler with a disability, what one can expect from the infrastructure from all elements involved in an air travel and how the different complications can be reduced.
5.2 Laws and regulations
Within air travel, the following Norwegian and international laws and regulations are applicable.
5.2.1 The Norwegian Civil Aviation Act (“Luftfartsloven”)
Implementation 1994-04-01, 1996-04-01
Law on civil aviation in Norway.
“The law establishes that aviation in Norway can only take place in compliance with this law and regulations given with legal basis in the law. Regarding aviation that is covered by the decisions made within the EEA, these provisions will apply before other decisions made within this law”.
The law of aviation includes the following:
5.2.2 Regulation regarding accessibility of airports, and the rights regarding the rights within aviation concerning people with a disability
The Regulation came into force 2013-07-06 with legal basis in the Norwegian Civil Aviation Act (Luftfartsloven) . It includes the mapping and planning of new airports, as well as the passengers’ rights during travel.
There are no requirements for changing or restructuring already existing buildings and facilities concerning the airport, except for the boarding solutions.
By § 8. the standard of boarding solutions (“Standarden på ombordstigningsløsninger”)
It is stated that there is no absolute requirement concerning the implementation of a passenger boarding bridge in already existing buildings, however;
“Airports that is not required to have a passenger boarding bridge shall have a stepless ramp or a technical lifting device as an alternative boarding solution”.
The regulation decides that airlines, tour operators and so forth is to oblige by the EEA-agreement is enforced by The Civil Aviation Authority of Norway (Statens Luftfartstilsyn).
5.2.3 Regulation regarding air passengers’ rights when denied boarding and cancelled or significantly delayed flights
The Regulation came into force 2005-02-17 as a Norwegian implementation of Regulation 261/2004. The Regulation contains its own decisions regarding the rights of passengers with a disability, among other that information shall be distributed in an accessible format. The Regulation decides that airlines, tour operators and so forth is to oblige by the EEA-agreement is enforced by The Civil Aviation Authority of Norway (Statens Luftfartstilsyn).
5.2.4 EU legislation
The following EU directives and regulations are applicable to air travel:
REGULATION (EC) No 1107/2006 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 5 July 2006
concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air
- Article 1
The directive applies to air passengers with disabilities and their rights concerning air travel by commercial aircrafts to, from or within a member state.
- Article 3
Article 3 prohibits the airlines, tour operators and so forth to refuse passengers to book a travel or boarding with the reason being their disabilities.
- Article 4
Article 4 explains the circumstances regarding any refusal of a person with a disability to travel. The airline reserves the right to refuse a passenger when allowing them to do so go directly against the aircraft’s safety procedures. In such a situation, the passenger has the right to be refunded as well as, if possible, receive an alternative travel route.
The airline is also reserved the right to demand that the passenger with a disability is accompanied by another person that can assist with the further actions necessary to aid the passenger.
- Article 5
Article 5 imposes on the airport, both outside and inside the terminal, to give the passenger sufficient information. It shall also be possible for the passenger to contact airport personnel for further assistance. This shall be available at any given time, and not complicate the passenger’s check-in to the airport.
- Article 6
Article 6 imposes the airline and tour operators to transmit essential information to the included parties. That is, all information regarding the number of people with a disability travelling and the circumstances around necessary assistance and any assistive devices. Assumed that the reservation was made at least 48 hours before departure.
- Article 7
Article 7 refers to the passengers’ rights to assistance at the airport. The requirement takes effect when the passenger arrives at the airport. After this it is the airline and/or tour operators’ responsibility to assure that there is sufficient assistance available. This includes the check-in and any potential transportation inside the airport to the gate. When there is a service-animal travelling with the passenger, it is the responsibility of the airline to accommodate the passenger and service-animal with the assistance needed in such a situation. If the airport has special regulations against passengers travelling with an animal, it is the responsibility of the airline and/or tour operator to inform the passenger of the situation. And this should be done so there is enough time to possibly make other arrangements.
As mentioned in article 6, the airline is imposed to follow these regulations when the reservation is made at least 48 hours before departure. If this is not the case, meaning that the reservation was made less than 48 hours before departure, the airline shall still try to accommodate the passengers as well as possible and aid the passengers so that the travel is still feasible.
- Article 8
Article 8 ensures the passenger with a disability service that is free of charge, when the service is provided based on their disability.
The airline is still reserved the right to add a fee, on a non-discrimination basis, if it is necessary to be able to provide assistance. If such a fee is implemented, it shall be reasonably priced according to the assistance provided, it shall be affordable and also be worked out between the airline and the passenger – through the airport’s user committee.
- Article 9
Article 9 enforce the quality of the assistance that the passenger with a disability is entitled to. Unless the airport has less than 150 000 yearly travelers, are they required by law to publish and follow a standard that ensures a certain level of quality of the assistance provided at the airport.
- Article 10
Article 10 forbids the airline to add any extra fee for assistance to a passenger with a disability. The assistance shall be an offer that is free of charge as long as the passenger travels to or through an airport where the regulation applies, in addition to that the passenger fulfils the requirements mentioned in article 7.
- Article 11
Article 11 imposes the airline to train all employees regarding the needs and assistance in reference to passengers with a disability. The personnel shall be trained in correctly accommodating the passengers as well as having sufficient knowledge of the passengers’ needs. To have basic knowledge about the different disabilities is imposed on the employees. In addition, should the employees go through, upon employment, a course to acquire knowledge about how to accommodate passengers with a disability.
- Article 12
In case of loss or damage of a wheelchair, or other assistive devices, the passenger has the right to compensation for the loss or damage of the property.
- Article 13
The article ensures that the regulation is not restricted or limited regarding the passenger with a disability.
- Article 14
Every member state shall implement a body that is responsible for the enforcement of the rights of travelers with a disability. The body shall to their best ability enforce and look after that the rights and regulations are followed, that the passenger is treated with respect and within their rights according to the regulations.
- Article 15
If the passenger with a disability deems that their rights have not been enforced, the passenger has the right to complain to the airline’s representatives. If the complaint is being made at another location than where the airline responsible is, then it is the airline receiving the complaints responsibility to forward the message to the right location.
- Article 16
To ensure that these regulations and rights are being enforced, the Member States are obligated to implement a penalty if this is not the case. It shall be facilitated in such a way that it entails consequences to not follow the regulations.
- Article 18
The regulation shall take effect from the 26th of July 2008.
Assistance under the body responsible at the airport
In Appendix 1 there is an overview of the required assistance and facilitation necessary at the airport to ensure travelers with a disability the possibility of air travel.
- To be able to announce once arrival and need of assistance in the designated area both inside and outside the terminal.
- To be able to move from the designated area to check-in.
- Check-in and the registration of luggage.
- To continue from check-in to the plane. This includes the safety check, customs and so forth.
- When boarding the plane.
- To move from the entrance of the plane to the assigned seat.
- Storage and retrieval of luggage before, during and after the flight.
- Disembarking the plane.
- To move from the plane, through security and so forth, to the luggage pickup line.
- To move from the luggage hall to designated area.
- To reach the next flight if there is a connecting flight.
- The opportunity to use the bathroom if necessary.
Further on there is an explanation of the rights of the assistant travelling with a person with a disability (if this is required). The rights include movement inside the plane, boarding and disembarking.
Other important parts of the assistance required at the airport is the handling and shipping of movement aids, for example a wheelchair, assistance with a service animal and accessible information in the right format.
Assistance from the airlines
It is the duty of the airlines to help passengers with a disability with all necessary transport of movement aids (maximum two movement aids per passenger), as well as help and assistance with a service animal, the right communication in the right format and help with getting to accessible toilets.
It is also important that the airline, to the best of their ability, ensures that an assistant travelling with the passenger is seated next to the passenger in question.
5.3 Handbooks and Manuals
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has prepared a series of practical principles to help airlines work together regarding regulations and facilitation of passengers with a disability.
IATA says the following about their core principles:
“The resolution is founded on robust core principles that support and promote a consistent, global approach to passengers with disabilities traveling by air, with an emphasis on consultation, coordination and communication with all stakeholders involved in making accessible travel possible”.
CP 1. Accessibility for all passengers and universal accessibility for all, including persons with disabilities.
CP 2. Collective decisions about rights and facilitation for persons with disabilities.
CP 5. Regulators should consult the airlines before legislation, regulations and procedures are implemented.
CP 6. Regulators shall perform an extensive cost-benefit analysis of effects regarding the proposed Regulation.
CP 7. National legislation shall ensure that the system is not used for personal gains.
CP 8. The airlines shall assist passengers with disabilities in a way that is in the best interest of the passenger, as well as with the relevant security regulations.
CP 9. The airlines shall provide passengers with disabilities clear guidance regarding the relocation and treatment of their movement aids, for example wheelchairs and medical equipment.
CP 10. The airlines and their employees should have the opportunity to receive sufficient information and training regarding the treatment and assistance of people with disabilities.
CP 12. Regulators should encourage the passengers with disabilities to inform about their needs in advance of the travel.
5.3.2 The Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet)
Regarding assistance while travelling by air, The Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet) states among other things:
“If you are in need of assistance at the airport, you have several rights. You shall be able to acquire assistance with check-in and sending of luggage. Further you shall also be able to receive assistance with transportation, boarding, disembarking and the picking up of luggage in the luggage hall. Assistance shall, as far as possible, be adapted to the individuals’ special needs.”
This includes a series of rights and adaptations. If you travel inside the EU/EEA-area, it is the EU-regulations that apply. The same rights can be found in the United Stated as well, but not necessarily the exact same in other countries outside of Europe.
18.104.22.168 Points of Assistance
When one arrives at the airport, there shall be designated points of assistance both outside and inside the terminal building. These shall be clearly marked as well as contain sufficient information about the airport.
22.214.171.124 Assistance at check-in
The airport administrator is responsible for ensuring assistance to passengers with disabilities, so that it is possible for the passenger to:
- Notify about their arrival at the airport and ask for assistance at the designated points outside and inside the terminal building.
- Move from the meeting point to check-in.
- Check in and send luggage.
- Move from check-in to the aircraft and go through security, customs and passport control.
- Board the aircraft, with the help of lift, wheelchair or other necessary equipment.
- Move from the entrance of the aircraft to the assigned seating.
- Stow away and recuperate luggage in the aircraft
- Move from the assigned seating to the exit of the aircraft.
- Leave the aircraft, with the help of lifts, wheelchair or other necessary equipment.
- Move from the aircraft to the luggage hall, pick up luggage and move through customs and passport control.
- Reach connecting flights when in transit, with the required assistance in the aircraft, inside and between the terminals.
- Reach accessible toilets.
The passenger with a disability does also have the right to the proper accommodation for their assistant (if they choose or need to travel with one). The assistant has the right to perform the necessary assistance at, for example, the boarding or disembarking of the aircraft.
When it comes to mobility aids (and other aids) like wheelchairs, medical equipment, service animals and so forth, the airline is required to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the best possible handling and assistance. In the case of loss or damage of, for example, a wheelchair, the passenger has the right to temporary replacement gear.
In addition, the airline is required to provide sufficient information in a clear and understandable fashion.
126.96.36.199 Assistance and waiting time
Regarding waiting at the airport for assistance it all depends on the size of the airport and whether the passenger with a disability has pre-notified the airline of their need of assistance at least 48 hours before departure.
Airports with more than 1 million passenger movements per year:
- It shall not be more than 15 minutes between the arrival at the airport and notification of assistance until the necessary assistance is provided. If the passenger has not pre-notified about their need for assistance, there shall not be more than a 30-minute wait before required assistance is provided.
- When one arrives at the airport by plane, it shall not be more than 15 minutes from the aircraft stops until assistance is provided. If there has not been a pre-notification of needed assistance, there might be up to a 40-minute wait before assistance is provided.
Airports with less than 1 million passenger movements per year:
- When the aircraft has landed at the destination, there shall not be more than a 10-minute wait before assistance is provided. If there has not been a pre-notification of needed assistance, there might be up to a 30-minute wait before assistance is provided.
188.8.131.52 The content of the assistance
The airlines have a series of responsibilities when it comes to the assistant assignments regarding passengers with a disability:
- Follow-up in case of delay or change of exit.
- The opportunity to notify personnel about the need for assistance regarding finding an accessible toilet, and
- The opportunity to notify personnel about the need for assistance with ordering food and beverages.
Regarding boarding, both the passengers with a disability and the assistants’ needs shall be accommodated in the best way possible. This will be particularly important when boarding without assistance is not possible. Because of both physical and technical reasons.
In their website, Avinor has a set of rules on customer service regarding people with disabilities. Avinor is a wholly-owned state limited company under the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications and is responsible for 44 state-owned airports.
184.108.40.206 Rights as a passenger with disability
When ordering tickets, one can order assistance at the same time assuring the best possible accommodation and informed personnel throughout the whole trip. It is important that the assistance is ordered at least 48 hours before departure so that the airline has enough time to inform everyone that will be involved.
220.127.116.11 Meeting up at the airport
When you arrive at the airport, it is important to follow the available recommendations. Avinor recommends arriving at the airport 2 hours before departure when traveling within Norway and Schengen, and 2,5 hours before departure when traveling outside of Schengen.
If assistance is needed at check-in, or one is required to be met outside the departure area, it might be beneficial to add another hour to the travel schedule.
18.104.22.168 Ordering assistance
When ordering a travel, it is important to plan the journey well in advance. One can either order assistance when ordering the tickets, or by contacting the airline or tour operator after the order is placed.
Either way should the ordering of assistance take place at least 48 hours before departure, to ensure the best accommodation and assistance.
If one meets up at the airport, as a traveler with a disability, without having given a pre-notification of needed assistance, one is still entitled to assistance, but it is then possible that there will be a longer time to wait before assistance is provided.
When ordering assistance, it is important to notify one’s needs. Meaning to be specific about the assistance needed:
- If you need assistance with transportation to and from the aircraft, and if there will be required assistance when boarding the plane and finding the assigned seat.
- If you can move by yourself inside the airport and aircraft but need assistance when recuperating and delivering luggage.
- If you use portable oxygen equipment.
- If you use a wheelchair and whether the chair is manual or electric.
- If you have reduced vision or hearing and need direct information or are bringing a service animal.
- If there will be a need for accompaniment to the right time and place inside the airport, “Meet and Assist”.
In addition to notifying one’s needs, it is also important to arrange a meeting spot before arrival. The following are some alternatives to where one can meet:
- After check-in
- At the gate (at departure).
- At the entry to the aircraft or inside the aircraft (at arrival)
- At the train, bus, taxi or at the car.
22.214.171.124 Information about assistance
If the person with disability is able to board the aircraft without assistance, and acquire a familiar person to assist to gate, it is possible to ask for a companion certificate for the assistant. This person may accompany the traveler to gate if travelling inside Schengen. It is also possible to ask for a wheelchair to borrow at any time, free of charge.
When arriving at the airport, one shall alert the personal of one’s arrival. This may be done either at check-in, or by contacting the assistant service directly. The number for the assistant service is given out at the airport.
The assistance available include:
- Assistance to and from the aircraft through the airport.
- Assistance when there is a need for getting to a toilet, this does not include assistance during the lavatory visit.
- Assistance when buying food and beverage, this does not include other purchases when travelling domestic.
- Assistance with getting to and from the Tax-Free Store when travelling overseas. Inside the store one can ask for assistance from the store personnel.
- Assistance during delays, changing of exits, rebooking and so forth.
If a passenger is moving through security in a wheelchair, the check shall be performed manually. It is also safe to go through security with a hearing device.
One can find information about what kind of equipment is allowed through the security check on their website.
The airport cannot be responsible for assisting with medical assistance during air travel. The airport personnel cannot administer medication if the passenger is not able to do so on their own. If this is the case, that the passenger needs medication distributed during air travel, the air travel will be classified as medical transport and therefore it cannot be done on regular scheduled flights.
126.96.36.199 Avinors commitment
Oslo Airport provides professional and customer-oriented assistance to passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility, called PRM (persons with reduced mobility).
They assist passengers with a safe, secure and punctual service from arrival at the airport and to aircraft, from aircraft up to leaving the airport, and from aircraft to aircraft.
Their assistance service is provided in compliance with the EU regulation (EC) No. 1107/2006 and regulations on the universal design of airports, and on the rights of disabled and mobility challenged persons in air transport (FOR-2013-07-16-919) chapter 3. The regulations’ sections 13 to 16 also define average waiting times.
- For departing passengers with pre-booked assistance at least 48 hours before departure, the airport must ensure that the waiting time from when the passenger reports arrival and until assistance is provided (a) does not exceed 10 minutes for 80 % of passenger, (b) does not exceed 20 minutes for 90 % of passengers, and (c) does not exceed 30 minutes for any passengers.
- For departing passengers without pre-booked assistance, the airport must ensure that the waiting time from when the passenger reports arrival and until assistance is provided (a) does not exceed 25 minutes for 80 % of passengers, (b) does not exceed 35 minutes for 90 % of passengers, and (c) does not exceed 45 minutes for any passengers.
- For arriving passengers with pre-booked assistance at least 48 hours before departure, the airport must ensure assistance at the aircraft after landing (a) within 5 minutes from “chocks on” for 80 % of passengers, (b) within 10 minutes from “chocks on” for 90 % of passengers, and (c) such that no passengers wait more than 20 minutes from “chocks on”.
- For arriving passengers without pre-booked assistance, the airport must ensure assistance at the aircraft after landing (a) within 25 minutes from “chocks on” for 80 % of passengers, (b) within 35 minutes from “chocks on” for 90 % of passengers, and (c) such that no passengers wait more than 45 minutes from “chocks on”.
188.8.131.52 Reduced mobility
When ordering the plane ticket, one should notify if there is a need for a wheelchair or not. Furthermore, one shall also notify of the following:
- If you are arriving with a personal wheelchair, and whether the wheelchair is electrical or manual.
- If you need assistance moving to the aircraft, and boarding the aircraft
- If you need to board the aircraft before other passengers
- If you need to borrow other technical aids.
In addition, it is important to notify the airport personnel of the wheelchair’s weight and measurements when folded together and whether it is electrical or not.
When using an electrical wheelchair, there will be a possibility that the wheelchair will have to be abandoned at check-in. The seating in the wheelchair can in many cases be transferred to another wheelchair and to the seating inside the aircraft if this does not prohibit the use of the seatbelt inside the aircraft.
The wheelchairs battery must be marked properly, so that it can be identified more easily. For more information about the battery, one can contact the wheelchair-distributor or the assistive technology center (Hjelpemiddelsentralen).
If the wheelchair must be disassembled, one shall bring the proper special tools and assembly instructions.
If one uses a manual wheelchair, one can normally bring this to the entrance of the plane, or the aircraft stairs.
184.108.40.206 Visual impairments
If one is bringing a service dog, one shall notify the airport or tour operators when ordering the ticket. The dog can normally come onboard the aircraft, if the cabin is not closed to animals. It is important to have the proper travel documents for the dog. If the passenger is blind, one can travel without an assistant for up to four hours, but if the passenger is both blind and deaf, the passenger will have to travel with an assistant. Remember medical confirmation.
220.127.116.11 Hearing impairments
A lot of the information at the airports is given over the speakers, therefore it is important to notify the personnel of one’s disability so all information can be conveyed in the proper manner. All other information about assistance, any flight changes and transit shall be made at check-in. At some airports one can find tele loops at the check-in counter. The hearing aid shall be put in T position.
18.104.22.168 Passengers with chronic diseases and others
Asthma and allergies
If the passenger has an allergy that might influence air travel, there shall be given a notification of this when ordering the ticket. If there is a dog allergy, the cabin will be closed to dogs, unless a ticket for a dog has already been ordered by another passenger. In such a situation, it is the first one who ordered the ticket that will have priority.
If there is a case of diabetes or food allergies, one shall give a notification of this when ordering the ticket. The air in the aircraft is changed continuously, which means that even if there are a lot of passengers onboard the aircraft, one shall be able to experience a good indoor climate.
Heart and lung disease
If a passenger needs medical oxygen, one shall give a notification of this at least 48 hours before the planned take-off, and preferably when ordering the tickets. The rules regarding the use of personal oxygen cylinders depend on the airline. If there is not a possibility of using one’s own oxygen cylinder, one shall use the airline’s own.
If there is an emergency, it is possible to use the aircraft’s emergency inventory.
If you are a stoma patient with a need for assistance, particularly through the security check, you can book assistance at departure.
When booking, provide the assistance code “Meet and Assist” when asked what type of assistance you need. The Assistance Service can provide you and the security staff with information.
When meeting the assistance staff, you should state that you need assistance through the security check, what type of stoma you have and where it is located.
- NS11032:2017 Universal Accessibility – Passenger Transport – Requirements for carriers for safeguarding passenger rights
This standard specifies requirements for facilitation of fulfilment of passenger rights across the various transport sectors. The standard specifies requirements for customers and carriers within the passenger transport area, including rights related to information, ticketing, assistance and rights before, during and after transport by road, rail, sea and air.
- NS11033:2017 Universal Accessibility – Passenger Transport – Services in the field of transport
This standard sets out requirements for how services in the transport area are to be designed and implemented in order to ensure universally designed solutions. The transport area includes in the standard passenger transport by rail, air, sea and road. The standard includes public-oriented service provision where universally designed solutions are required for the physical framework around the provision of transport services, processes and routines with requirements for development, planning, exercise and quality management of passenger transport services and requirements for quality assurance, definition of participants, assistance and training of service personnel.
The intervention areas do not include personal aids, apart from the interface with these, as well as aids that form part of the service, such as a telecoil, wheelchair at the airport, personal assistance and more.
5.4.1 Airports & Persons with Disabilities Handbook (2018)
This manual is created by “Airports Council International” and is intended as a guide for airport operators. It will help airports to be available to people with disabilities. The manual contains four chapters:
- Purpose and meaning of the manual.
- Definitions and types of disability.
- Infrastructure and architectural precautions.
- Operational and organizational precautions.
The recommendations in this book aim to help airports with more efficient and quality ensured the treatment of passengers with disabilities, as well as help in the design of new buildings and improvement of already existing ones.
5.4.2 Manual on Access to Air Transport by Persons with Disabilities
This manual for accessing air transport for people with disabilities is written and published by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2013.
This manual discusses the requirements and expectations of airlines and their operators when it comes to the treatment of people with disabilities on flights. These requirements include:
Available air transport, i.e. facilitation of all movement inside the airport, as well as the boarding and disembarkation of the aircraft. Handling of baggage and medical equipment, and the ability to provide people with disabilities with a respectful and efficient service.
In addition, airlines should be able to pass on essential information to the staff working at the current airport(s) and on the aircraft itself.
When developing programs and assistance for passengers with disabilities, airlines should be in contact with organizations representing this group in order to provide the best possible service, make good decisions when it comes to designing available facilities and training programs for employees.
Assistance in connection with people with disabilities should always be free of charge for the passenger.
The service offered should be seamless, that is, efficient and professional. No passenger with a disability should end up in a situation where they are pulled from or put without the necessary assistance. The only exception is when the participation of the given passenger collides with safety measures on the aircraft.
The manual sets out minimum requirements for the recommended level of service. Member States should meet this level but are also encouraged to exceed them.
When it comes to training employees, there are a number of points to consider. It is essential that airport employees know what kind of responsibilities they have when it comes to assisting people with disabilities, as well as being able to perform them with professionalism and respect.
The training should prepare the employees to carry out the necessary assistance in a way that respects the dignity of the person and as part of the service the passenger is entitled to. It should not be perceived as goodwill or an act out of compassion.
Furthermore, there is a list of what kind of area the assistance should cover, as well as what the training should contain (both in the case of first-time training and in the event of refreshment of previous training).
22.214.171.124 Before your trip
- Communication of information about services and facilities
Sufficient and necessary information should always be available in the correct format. Such as web-based, electronic, large font, or as audio tracks.
Aircraft operators should ensure that they can also communicate information to people with cognitive and sensory impairments (e.g. blind/visually impaired, deaf/poor hearing).
Airlines are encouraged, in cooperation with organizations for people with disabilities, to have sufficient information about their available assistance and facilities so that the passenger knows what needs to be planned in advance and what they have access to during the flight.
Information about the following should always be made available to the public by airlines and airline operators:
- opening hours
- the location of dedicated parking spaces
- the location of drop-off and pick-up zones.
- accessibility information phone number
- wheelchair or electric carriage service
- location of an area where service dogs can relieve themselves
- available inter-terminal transport.
- available ground transport
- passports for non-travelling partners
- complaints opportunities
- advance notification requirements
- Check-in and departure times
- requirements for brought motion equipment.
- types of service available at the airport and aircraft, this includes available boarding aids.
- Reservation assistance
Travel companies, travel operators and airline operators’ staff should ask through the booking of the ticket if there are any travelers who need assistance (at the airport, at the plane or both). When the order is made online, it should be clear where you can inform about the need for assistance.
When making a booking for a person with a disability, sufficient information should be provided about what assistance can be offered, what facilities are available, or possibly unavailable. This information should be provided regardless of whether passengers request it or not.
Furthermore, the aircraft operators should ask for definitions and dimensions in the event of movement aids. This is to make sure they can bring the aid on the plane. (Example: in some electric wheelchairs, the battery should be insulated). If it is the case that the airline operators cannot bring the aid, then this should be notified immediately so that the passenger may have the opportunity to find alternative solutions.
If a situation arises where the airline cannot bring a passenger’s wheelchair, they shall soon find an alternative mode of travel for that person. If this is not possible, a full refund shall be transferred.
The airline should inform passengers with disabilities about the circumstances surrounding liability and reimbursement in the event of damage and the like on personal belongings such as a wheelchair. This gives the passenger the opportunity to withdraw their own insurance before the journey. The airline should generally inform about the conditions surrounding the transportation of movement aids as well as other articles requiring special treatment at the airport.
- Advance notification
Passengers with disabilities should be encouraged to report need assistance when booking a ticket, or as early as possible. The information provided to the airlines shall then be communicated to the appropriate distances, so that everyone involved should have all available information.
As long as the advance notification of the need for assistance arrives 48 hours before the scheduled departure, airport operators shall ensure that proper and adequate assistance is provided.
If the message arrives after 48 hours before the scheduled departure, this should not prevent the passenger from travelling. The airline and airport operators will then continue to make, as best possible, the flight available to the passenger.
People with disabilities are not required to provide information about themselves if they do not need assistance. However, if the person needs assistance, it is important, and required that they can identify their needs to airport operators and flight personnel.
- Travelling with an assistant
Airline operators should respect passengers with disabilities self-evaluation when travelling with or without a partner. The only case where the airline operators may require the passenger to accompany is if it is not possible to communicate sufficient safety requirements to the passenger without.
If the passenger with a disability needs assistance with personal care, it is also encouraged that the passenger in question travels with an entourage as this is not assistance offered by flight operators and airport staff.
But this is nothing more than a suggestion, as the airline operators’ assessment of the need for assistance does not exceed the passenger’s self-evaluation of this need.
Furthermore, if the passenger with a disability travel with an assistant, the airline should offer a reduced price or free ticket to the entourage.
The person in question should also be seated next to the passenger.
- Seat reservation
Aircraft operators should have seats available for people with disabilities. That is, aircraft seats that are adapted to their needs and that follow all of the safety protocols. Airline operators should wait to assign these seats to other passengers until they are sure they are not needed by others.
Passengers with disabilities should be able to move to such seats if this makes the journey more comfortable and accessible to them. This can be, for example, seats with more legroom, seats that are closer to the toilets or where there is room for an assistant next to them. In the case of flights where it is possible to book different seats at different prices, and the passenger is moved to a better acquired seat at a higher price, this should not come as an addition to the price for that person.
Airline operators should always stand ready to offer alternative seats, as well as be able to inform the passenger about what kind of seats are available so that it is possible to find the best suitable seat for the passenger.
When travelling with service dogs, the airline operators should facilitate this. This entails, among other things, sufficient space for both passengers and animals. Often it is best that the animal can sit/lie on the floor in front of the passenger, which in turn requires space. This should be discussed between passenger and airline operator before departure to ensure the best possible service for passengers and animals.
- Conveying of reservation confirmation
When an order for assistance is received, this information should be distributed to all parties involved so that the personnel at the various distances know what the passenger needs from assistance.
When disclosing medical information to airline operators, the passenger should be notified of what information has been provided and to whom.
126.96.36.199 Arrival and movement through the airport.
Upon arrival at the airport, the flight operators should ensure that people with disabilities are offered assistance on time, so that the passenger has sufficient time to make the flight they are going on.
When using facilities at planes and airports, such as getting to a toilet or using automated kiosks, airline operators should be able to assist with this depending on the available time.
Information points should be available to people with disabilities, such as people who are in wheelchairs, who have a visual, hearing, or speech impairment. Employees at information points should be trained in handling requests for information from people with disabilities with efficiency and sensitivity.
Upon check-in, flight and airport operators should ensure that automated check-in machines are available and marked with accessibility symbols. If the machines cannot be made available to everyone, a corresponding service should be offered to persons who cannot operate the machines on their own.
Check-in staff should have been trained to receive enquiries from and respond to the needs of people with disabilities.
When it comes to wheelchair availability, aircraft and airport operators should offer this upon request at the airports. This ensures a safe and seamless transport from the point of attendance to departure, as well as from disembarkation to the exit to the airport. The passenger should receive sufficient information when it comes to the availability of wheelchairs at the airport, as well as whether it is necessary to let us know in advance whether there is a need for borrowing a wheelchair. As a rule, the passenger should be allowed to travel in their own wheelchair until boarding the aircraft, and then get it back again upon disembarkation where the airports infrastructure allows it to do so.
Aircraft and airport operators should also assist with baggage where necessary. This can be, for example, at check-in, at security check-in or boarding.
Airline operators must assist with sufficient seating where passengers with disabilities must wait, this usually happens at check-in, security checks and baggage collection. Seating should not be placed so that they block emergency exits.
Where people who are in wheelchairs and are not mobile on their own are placed on their own, planes and airport operators should regularly check in with updates on further progress and any questions about needs. This should happen at least every 30 minutes.
Aircraft and airport operators should periodically review their procedures for assistance to people with disabilities to ensure they provide the best possible service. This means, among other things, that you have control over the latest technology and procedures.
Feedback from people with disabilities should also be taken into account when performing this review.
188.8.131.52 Airport facilities
Airport operators should, when building new airports, consult with experts to ensure the most accessible and universally designed airport. Here it is recommended to, among other things, use available manuals.
Regarding the airport’s available routes and passages, this entails among other things, roads to various terminals, boarding routes and disembarkation routes. All of these should be adapted to passengers with disabilities so that it should be possible to pass. Furthermore, all locations inside the airport that are available to the public should have solutions that make them available to everyone.
- Business Lounges
- Means of communication
- Information and check-in disks
- Drop-off and pick-up areas
- And outdoor travel routes, such as a parking lot.
Airport operators should also ensure that no new barriers are created where travel routes are already available and should this occur – that the new obstacles are removed as soon as possible.
Systems for intra- and inter-terminal means of transport should comply with national legislation when it comes to accessibility standards.
When briefing inside the airport, airport operators should ensure that there are sufficient orientation aids. This includes visual contrasts, leader lines on the ground, and patterns on walls that indicate direction.
Signage and marking of areas specifically dedicated to persons with disabilities should be clear and clear in coordination with internationally approved standards. In addition, all other signs should also be adapted so that it should be as easy as possible for everyone to read.
Airport operators should ensure that signage for toilets, emergency exits, lifts, stairs, dedicated seating areas, service dog relief areas and gate and departure areas are made as accessible as possible. That is, the font should be without mica, in a universal font and size, as well as in contrast to the background. In addition, braille should be available as often as possible. The signs should also be easy to see for everyone, it includes people in wheelchairs.
Airport operators should also ensure that all automated machines are available and marked with the universal symbol of accessibility. This includes all machines relevant to your trip. For example, check-in, boarding pass printing, baggage tags collection, seat selection and photo identification. If it is not possible to customize all the machines in this way, another corresponding solution should be presented.
Available communication systems should also be available to everyone. Some or all flight information should be installed at eye level. Airport operators should also ensure that phones, internet terminals and charging stations are available to passengers with disabilities.
For more information about what is required by an availability of a phone, see chapter 5.14 of the manual.
Airline and airport operators should ensure that all public announcements are made available both verbally and visually.
When it comes to arrival and departure monitors, these should also be installation at eye-height (which is, 1.5 meters above the ground plus/minus 25 millimeters.)
For more information on what is required of such monitors, see chapter 5.17–19 of the manual.
Seating areas are an essential part of accessibility at an airport. There should be available seating wherever there is a possibility that one will be left to wait. Available seating should be marked with the universal sign of accessibility and should not be placed in areas where they can stand in the way of an emergency exit. The seats should also be located so that you have an overview of monitors, etc. that provide information about the journey.
For information on areas where service dogs can do their part, see chapters 5.24 to 5.26 of the manual.
Airline and airport operators should ensure that airport and on-flight availability features are regularly checked and insured that are in good condition.
184.108.40.206 Security checks and border checks
For security checks and border checks, airport operators should ensure that they are available to people with disabilities. It is important in such operations that all assistance is made with the passenger’s dignity in focus. Information shall be provided, both verbally and visually about:
- When to proceed to the security check.
- Directions for the placement of cabin baggage and other materials on the x-ray tape in the security check.
- To continue through the machine during the security check.
- When a safety check is over and you can continue with the next steps in your journey.
Alternative solutions shall be offered where it is not possible to use the “screening” machine in the security check. Then, for example, a physical check of the passenger will be able to work. Here it should also be an option for the passenger to have the check carried out somewhere that is not accessible (or seen) by other passengers.
If the state’s safety regulations allow, it should be possible to give passports to the assistant. So that the person with a disability may have the opportunity to be accompanied to the boarding of a person of their choice.
220.127.116.11 Boarding and disembarking of the aircraft.
Assistance in boarding and disembarking should be provided by the staff of aircraft and airport operators, who have undergone proper training in the field. So that it can be best adapted in relation to the individual person’s needs.
This service should include:
- Assistance in boarding and disembarking the aircraft.
- Moving the person with a disability from their own mobility aid to a wheelchair, boarding chair or other type of mobility aid offered by the airport.
- Transfer of person with disabilities to their assigned seat on the aircraft.
- Assistance in putting away and retrieving luggage that has been brought into the cabin.
- Assistance with the road from disembarkation and towards the baggage hall. This includes customs and immigration procedures.
- Assistance in obtaining shipped baggage, if this is something the passenger with a disability cannot do on their own.
- Assistance in continuing on to general public areas, and if requested, to the next area to reach any further flight connection.
When boarding and disembarking from the aircraft, people with disabilities should be given the opportunity to do so before other passengers as this is often perceived as less stressful. As it is also always important to remember to safeguard the dignity of the passenger, this can also help with that.
It should also be possible for the passenger who is dependent on a wheelchair to travel as long as possible in their own wheelchair. There are some cases where this can become difficult, for example, with some electric wheelchairs. Then the airport will offer other accessible wheelchairs that make the journey possible. Nor should a wheelchair be used if it goes beyond the health of flight and airport staff when lifting chairs, for example.
Upon arrival, staff should also return their own wheelchair and other movement assistance to the passenger as close to the exit of the aircraft as possible. Exceptions occur where national security or risky materials prevent this, or the passenger requests something else.
It should also be checked periodically by flight and airport operators that the person with disabilities has sufficient assistance throughout the journey if the passenger is not independently mobile.
When boarding and disembarking, ramps and lifts should be sufficient to ensure a smooth and safe transport of persons with disabilities. These aids should be checked periodically.
Lifting by hand should only be used if this is the absolute only way to assist the person with a disability with boarding and disembarkation. This can also only happen where the passenger agrees that this can be done in a safe manner.
Airline and airport operators should also ensure a safe transport of wheelchairs and other mobility aids. It should be avoided lifting electric wheelchairs where this can both damage the chair and the airport staff.
18.104.22.168 Airport operators’ service on board.
On board the aircraft, movement aids and assistive devices should be approved in addition to the aircraft operators’ standard baggage quantity. This applies to both the cabin and the sent baggage. Movement aids and assistive devices should be accepted at no additional cost.
The airline operators should approve manual folding wheelchairs and small aids to be included in the cabin, as long as there is room for this. These should be prioritized over other passengers’ cabin baggage.
If wheelchairs are not possible to bring on the plane, they should be given priority space during the flight, and be delivered as soon as possible after arrival at a new airport.
Wheelchairs and mobility aids should be the last to be loaded into the aircraft and the first to be taken out.
Batteries can be removed from electric wheelchairs and packed in accordance with national regulations. If this is the case, the wheelchair should be assembled in its original position as soon as possible after arrival. The wheelchair must be returned to the passenger as it was received. It is encouraged by the passenger with a disability to provide information about the chair if there is anything that should be noticed.
Signage on board the aircraft should be located in such a way that shadows and glare are avoided, as well as contrasts between writing and background.
The allocation of seats to people with disabilities should be as adapted as possible. Examples include seats with moving armrests for passengers who cannot easily move over stuck armrests. There may be extra space for passengers who cannot bend their legs, or seats close to the toilet and exit for passengers with mobility disabilities. Once the adapted seat has been allocated, the passenger with a disability should not be moved from this seat unless it is for safety reasons.
If the person with a disability has been assigned a seat that is not adapted to their needs, they should be offered another seat that is better adapted. One may want to inform the airline operators and reserve some seats in case a passenger has such needs.
When a passenger needs a service dog, it should be arranged so that this can be done as adapted as possible. This entails, among other things, enough legroom so that the service dog can lie on the floor in front of the passenger.
(For further information on passengers with service dogs’ rights on board an aircraft, see Chapter 8.10 of the manual).
Regarding communicating safety and information about equipment on board the aircraft, this information should be provided in a way that is adapted to the passenger with a disability. This should be done in a discreet way. Furthermore, this information should be available both verbally, in writing and visually so that passengers with impaired sensory ability can get the information they need.
Planes with accessible toilets should have a wheelchair that is designed for movement on board the aircraft. If there are no toilets available on the aircraft, flight operators should have a wheelchair available if requested by a passenger with a disability. This is a given that flight personnel have the opportunity to store and secure such an aid.
An onboard wheelchair should be accessible with the footrest and armrests that are movable and removable. There should also be sufficient locks and brakes so that the chair can be adequately secured in case of turbulence, for example.
Throughout the journey, flight personnel should periodically check that the passenger with a disability has the assistance they require.
When it comes to movement inside the aircraft, the personnel should be helpful in this. This will be, for example, when moving to and from toilets. Such assistance should not include physical lifting of the person.
Services that are not required by aircraft and airport operators are assistance with personal care. This includes:
- Assistance with eating
- Assistance inside the toilet cabinet
- Assistance with medical cases, such as administering medications.
22.214.171.124 On board the aircraft
Facilities available on flights:
When constructing a new aircraft, this should be done in a way that best ensures available solutions for all passengers. This also applies to the conversion of existing aircraft. Some examples of what should be facilitated on an aircraft:
- Available toilets.
- Signage and signals adapted to passengers with disabilities.
- Lighting in the cabin, except for the one controlled by the passenger themself, should be located in such a way that strong contrasts and shadows are not created.
- Integrated boarding stairs should have:
– standardized height and climb stairs.
– the first and last steps at the same height as other steps.
– “braided” surface that is firm and not smooth, and does not make glare.
– stripes in contrasting colors that indicate the outer edges of steps and handles.
- Handles and fences should be:
– fixed, rounded, smooth and not slippery.
– with contrasting colors against the background.
– with a diameter that makes it easy to hold, and without obstacles that can break up a hand hold.
– returned to the wall or top or bound of the staircase in a smooth arc.
- The surface on the floor inside the aircraft should be without glare and non-slip.
- The armrests should be movable in at least 50% of the aircraft, in all classes.
- Planes with more than one aisle should have at least one wheelchair adapted for onboard use.
- Tactile markers should be installed to indicate rows.
Each aircraft should have at least one toilet that is accessible to people with disabilities. This includes tactile signage, color contrasts and easily accessible handles, sinks and other controls.
For an aircraft large enough to have an onboard wheelchair, there are also several requirements for the toilet, such as enough space for both movement and privacy and favorable placement of various objects inside the toilet. (To get an overview of this, you can look at chapter 9.2.1 in the manual).
Furthermore, there are guidelines when it comes to the storage of motion aids on the aircraft:
- Where there is sufficient space, flight operators should carry passenger-owned manual folding wheelchairs in addition to other small aids into the cabin.
- A passenger’s manual folding wheelchair should be given priority during cabin storage over other passengers’ luggage. This should happen when the passenger with a disability board before the rest of the passengers.
126.96.36.199 Stopover and leaving of the airport
In case of loss or delay of movement aids:
- In cases where movement aids are lost, destroyed, or delayed in delivery, flight and airport operators should provide a temporary replacement.
- The replacement should be as similar to the original movement aid as possible, and not incur any additional costs for the passenger.
- Aircraft and airport operators should have an overview of available hubs that can provide movement aids in the event of loss or destruction. This should be so quickly in place that the passenger can make further travel arrangements.
- If a mobility aid is damaged and can be fixed, airport operators should arrange it so that the aid is fixed as soon as possible and returned to the passenger at the first possible opportunity. This should not incur any additional costs for the passenger.
- If the mobility aid is damaged in such a way that it cannot be repaired, or it is lost, the airport operators should refund the passenger for the lost aid. It should be refunded so that a full replacement can be made.
- Regarding collecting sent baggage, flight and airport operators should assist with this if requested.
188.8.131.52 Ground transport
Air and airport operators should ensure that there are sufficient ground transportation options for people with disabilities. Where it is not possible to provide adequate ground transport, air and airport operators should advise on alternative solutions and offers and advise the public on how to access these services. Where there is no ground transport available, the public should be informed of this.
Reservations for available ground transportation should be informed during flight booking. Here, airline and airport operators should refer to booking pages that provide the opportunity to specify their needs and ensure a safe and efficient flight. Information about this should be available, for example with braille, in uppercase letters and in the form of sound.
When it comes to ground transportation inside the airport, airport operators should offer adequate assistance for people with disabilities.
Also, no additional costs should be imposed on people with disabilities when it comes to transporting motion aids and service dogs.
Aircraft and airport operators should ensure adequate ground transportation for people with disabilities when there are long distances between terminals, terminal buildings or from airport to aircraft. Where other passengers are transported by bus, there should be alternatives for people with disabilities. These options should be as well adapted to the passenger as possible. Those who operate the alternative means of transport should have sufficient training so that they can offer the passenger a safe and dignified journey to the aircraft.
In the case of transport between airports, airline and airport operators should ensure a safe and adapted itinerary between these for passengers with disabilities. The passenger should be able to be offered the same comfort and price for this journey that is available to other passengers.
In the case of signage for available ground transport, airport operators should comply with international standards set in the area.
Airport operators should encourage car-hire companies at their airport to have special cars with hand controls available for people with disabilities. This should not incur any additional costs for the passenger beyond the standardized prices offered by the rental company.
Airline and airport operators should:
- Have processes available for people with disabilities to complain about the level and quality of service.
- Have specially trained staff available, in place or on the phone, which people with disabilities can contact to resolve any issues that arise at the airport. This should not incur any additional costs for the passenger.
- Make sure that the complaints service is available to everyone. An example may be for people with low vision or hearing, as methods should be available for everyone to leave a complaint.
- Be open to the possibility that people with disabilities can complain. They should accept both written and oral complaints.
- Inform the public about how it is possible to make a complaint to flight and airport operators in such a way that it is also available to people with disabilities.
- Inform people with disabilities that they can take the complaint to the state if it becomes impossible to resolve the issue with the flight and airport operators. This also applies if you are not satisfied with how the complaint was handled.
184.108.40.206 Monitoring and implementation of the requirements
States are encouraged to set up a group responsible for monitoring and implementing the requirements regarding accessibility standards in air transport and supervisors from the state.
Those responsible should regularly carry out checks on the service provided at the various airports and planes to ensure that the requirements are complied with, updated when necessary and that passengers with disabilities’ rights are respected.
In addition, states should encourage the various service providers to create their own internal distances that monitor the systems.
5.5 User needs
Infrastructure regards the framework around travel by plane. This means everything from parking at the airport, the way from the bus, parking or train station to check-in and luggage delivery, and the terminal building itself. All these distances require universal design. This applies to the physical design of check-in counters, information signage and conveying of information, toilets, rest areas, shops and restaurants and all other offers. Navigation is a key point in infrastructure; this applies to guidelines as well as lighting, acoustics and more. Long distances are a burden for many. The same applies to the fact that many things happen at once, that you are surrounded by many people in unfamiliar surroundings. Many people are reluctant to fly because of these challenges.
Therefore, it is important to understand that different people face different barriers in connection with travel by plane. In the following, we go through the typical challenges that passengers with various disabilities have.
220.127.116.11 Passengers with visual impairments
Passengers with visual impairments will normally want security and control in order to be able to help themselves in connection with travel, when they do not have the help of sight. At an airport, there is a lot to deal with at once, and then it can often be relevant to ask for help, which can be perceived as uncomfortable for many.
- Audio-based information and aids
At the airport, audio-based information alongside visual information is important. To gain access to information in connection with travel, websites and increasingly mobile applications are an important tool.
A number of such applications have now been developed that can be used through, for example, a smartphone, which can help one with everything from check-in to navigation inside the airport itself. For people with impaired vision, it is important that information can be provided in the form of sound or magnification of images and text, and there are also applications for this. An example here is Voiceover which provides reading of images and text.
An important element when it comes to the use of smartphones and applications as an aid is that not everyone has this available. There is a large proportion of older people who are not used to using this on a regular basis, but there can also be financial reasons. It will therefore be necessary to have sufficient information as an alternative to these aids.
- Check-in and boarding passes
Manual boarding passes have long been in use, but it is constantly changing and at most airports today you can choose whether you want it on the phone or printed. When checking in, it is important that the machines, on which this is often done, are sufficiently arranged so that it is possible, for example, to have the information read aloud. Touch screen is of course also problematic for people with impaired vision. It is therefore important that there are buttons and Braille at the screen on such machines, and that it is possible to choose sound as an alternative. If this is not available, it is important that there is a counter you can contact to get checked in.
- Signage and marking
When signposting, it is important that these show available information with good luminance control and adapted letter height and reading height for people with impaired, but not complete loss of vision.
Defined walkways and tactile guidelines must be adequately implemented throughout the area, for good navigation. Furthermore, it is important that there are clear contrast markings on stairs, posts, lifts and springs.
18.104.22.168 Passengers with a hearing impairment
Passengers with hearing loss can face problems that can lead to communication anxiety. This is especially true when acquiring information, being able to communicate with staff and being afraid of not perceiving important messages.
Some problems might be:
- The written conveying of information
At airports, some information is given over speakers. For passengers with hearing impairment, it is therefore essential that there is sufficient written information. Especially when it comes to unforeseen events, such as a delay or change of terminal, available real-time information must be provided.
- Reverberation and disturbing acoustics
In the case of hearing loss, one is dependent on being able to get information conveyed in a clear and distinct manner. Echoes and disturbing acoustics can make this problematic for passengers with hearing loss. As a hearing impaired person, it is essential to be able to focus on one sound at a time, such as a voice, and if this is disturbed, it may be almost impossible to do so.
- To be in large crowds
For passengers with a hearing impairment, stressful situations can arise in large crowds. Many of the same problems arise here as with reverberation and disturbing acoustics. In situations where you are in large crowds, a lot of noise often occurs, which in turn can lead to complications with communication for a person with a hearing impairment.
Lighting inside the airport is an important factor. In the event of disturbing lighting, there may be fatigue in the eyes, which in turn can cause headaches, among other things.
- Check-in and necessary information about departures and terminals.
A lot of information is given over speakers at the airport, especially in unforeseen situations. An unforeseen situation may be a change of terminal or a change of time of flight. In such situations, it is important that there is sufficient written information so that everyone can get all the messages that are given.
- Security check
At the security check, it can be difficult for people with an hearing disability when there is often some information that is given by the staff when you arrive at the place. Then it is important that it is written down what is expected to be done. At a possible further check, it can be stressful for people with hearing loss as it may not always be as clear what is going to happen.
22.214.171.124 Passengers with reduced mobility
For passengers with reduced mobility, there are a number of challenges associated with movement inside an airport. If an airport is not adapted for electric wheelchairs, this will lead to major problems, for example when boarding the aircraft.
A manual wheelchair is easier to operate and more convenient regarding assistance, when you have to overcome an obstacle, but they are also more physically demanding to operate. At the same time, not everyone has the opportunity to maneuver a manual wheelchair on their own.
Electric wheelchairs are easier to get around, for example, height differences or longer distances inside the airport, but are heavier and larger. When boarding, an electric wheelchair is also not favorable, and it will be necessary to use a manual.
A manual wheelchair is often smaller and easier to maneuver when boarding, both for the user and an assistant. This should be accessible to people with reduced mobility, and the new wheelchair should be adapted to the passenger as well as possible.
- Other aids
Passengers with walking aids such as crutches or canes feel greater physical strain in connection with moving over longer distances and can often feel uncomfortable at airports. Adequate seating is essential here. When you arrive at the airport, there is usually a little waiting time if you require assistance and when that is the case, it is important that you have places to sit while you wait.
At check-in, incorrect operating height on vending machines and other appliances can be problematic. Furthermore, assistance is often required when sending luggage and any movement aids such as an electric wheelchair. They often have to be dismantled and the battery removed, which can be stressful if you do not have the right tools or the personnel is untrained regarding the assistance required.
- Security Check
In security checks, it is important that people with reduced mobility receive sufficient information regarding their mobility aids. Lack of information here can lead to stressful situations, for example, if you do not know if you can stay in your wheelchair or have to carry crutches through scanning.
- Accessible toilets
Accessible toilets throughout your stay at the airport are essential. Assistance at the airport apply right up to the toilet, but it is also important that the toilet is universally designed.
- Parking spots at the airport
The airport’s parking spaces are large and over many floors. If there is insufficient disabled parking near the entrance, this can lead to a demanding journey for passengers with reduced mobility.
- The travel route from bus, car park or train station to check-in and luggage delivery
Furthermore, not all passengers arrive at the airport by car, but rather by public transport such as bus or train. It is important that the entire travel route is arranged and the person with a disability has the opportunity to get all the way from the means of transport to the airport.
126.96.36.199 Passengers with cognitive disabilities
Passengers with cognitive disabilities have varying degrees of challenges regarding travel. It is perhaps especially regarding cognition and putting information into context. This in turn is important for being able to function independently and to make oneself understood.
A particular challenge can be unforeseen impressions and events. An example here could be when changing a terminal or when a flight is delayed.
- Difficulty with orientation
Inside the airport, it can be difficult to orientate oneself for a passenger with cognitive disability. There is a lot to deal with, a lot of information that is given and many different distances to go through. It is important that information is provided in an accessible way, and that the staff have sufficient training when it comes to assisting a passenger with cognitive disabilities.
There is also often an incorrect user interface on mainstream information and communication technology.
Regarding traveling by plane, and orientation inside airports, challenges will include communication (perhaps especially in relation to requesting assistance), perceiving information about departures and check-in, and information that is conveyed along the way.
- Means of arrival within the airport
At some airports, there is the use of shuttle buses to make it easier to move passengers, for example to and from a terminal. Demanding situations can arise here for passengers with cognitive disabilities, as there is often a lot of information that is given at once.
- Reading, writing and language challenges
Passengers with reading, writing and language challenges (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or specific language challenges) will also be able to face different degrees of barriers in connection with travel. There may be difficulty when expressing oneself; reading difficulties with a lot of text, where it is important to focus on the most important things; or lack of understanding of numbers, such as understanding how long the journey or waiting time will take. Other challenges can be a lack of sense of direction or understanding the structure of an airport where there are often many elements to be considered at the same time.
Lack of clear information regarding operation of check-in automats, can lead to a more stressful journey for people with cognitive disabilities. There are usually check-in counters as an alternative here, but then it is important that the information at these counters is provided in an accessible way.
- Noise and stress
An airport is also a place where noise and stress becomes a factor, and for people with cognitive disabilities, this can be perceived as very stressful.
- Sunflower lanyard
The sunflower lanyard refers to a small badge that can be picked up at some airports and hung around the neck, possibly attached to the jacket. The badge indicates that you have a hidden disability. If a situation arises where the passenger with a hidden disability needs assistance, the staff can recognize the badge and assist with the assistance required.
For many, it is a stigmatizing burden to have to account for their own challenges and disabilities to strangers, even if it is staff who are to assist them with this. The sunflower lanyard is therefore a good aid so that you can be sure of getting help if necessary.At Bø Sommerland in Telemark and the Norsjø Ferieland, among others, they have also introduced the sunflower badge. So it is not only at international airports that one finds this aid.
- Shipping of luggage
When sending luggage, there is a lot to deal with at once, especially if something unforeseen happens. There may be luggage that is too heavy or that is not suitable for sending by plane. For passengers with cognitive disabilities, this can be perceived as stressful, and it can be difficult to figure out what to do.
188.8.131.52 Passengers with allergies
Passengers with allergies face their own medical challenges that can lead to severe problems if the airport is not well organized.
- Foods that are not labeled for allergies
Airports usually have a number of restaurants and kiosks, and if the food is not sufficiently allergy-labeled, it can be complicated for people with allergies to find food they can eat. For longer journeys, this is essential as it is often not possible to bring your own food through security checks.
If there is insufficient cleaning inside the airport, dust can build up which can create demanding situations for passengers who are allergic. In addition, hair and fur may be left if it is not washed regularly, and this can in some cases trigger strong allergic reactions.
- Allergenic plants
At some airports, there are plants, and if these are not allergen-free, it can lead to people with allergies having to stay away from these areas. This can create problems when, for example, waiting at terminals or shops and so forth.
- Perfumeries and the like
There are often a number of shops at airports, including perfumeries. Inside the perfumeries, there are often a lot of strong odors that spread beyond the perfumery itself. In case of allergies to such strong odors, this can be perceived as stressful for the passenger.
- Other places with strong odors
The same problem as with perfumery can occur in restaurants, and other places that sell and produce food.
5.6 User needs
5.6.2 Onboard the aircraft
When it comes to the actual flight, this can offer some great challenges for a lot of people. In addition to stress that can affect any passenger, also without a disability, this can be much worse if the conditions are not well adapted on board. In the following, we will look at some of the typical challenges that passengers with various disabilities may face. A special factor is that very often foreign airlines are responsible for the journey and that Norwegian legislation is therefore to a limited extent applicable.
184.108.40.206 Passengers with a visual impairment
- Service dogs
For passengers with visual impairments who use a service dog, it is important to be able to take the dog on the plane. It can be stressful not to know how to arrange this, and whether you are allowed to have the dog with you at all. The airline shall, to the best of its ability, facilitate this. There should also be sufficient opportunities for the dog to be able to do relieve itself.
In addition, sufficient legroom is a factor, as the dog must have a place to stay during the flight.
- Available audio-based information
Much of the information that is given inside the plane is done in writing. Menus are an example of this. Very often, especially on longer trips, food is offered and these menus are only available in writing. It is very rare that this information is made orally. It can therefore make the journey less accessible to the visually impaired passenger.
- Seating location
When boarding, it is important that the passenger with impaired vision gets sufficient assistance when it comes to locating their seat. This can be challenging for passengers with impaired vision, as there is a lot going on at once inside the plane and it is not easy to find a seat without being able to see the seat numbers.
- The lack of Braille
There is often a lack of Braille on board the aircraft which makes the journey considerably more complicated for passengers who are used to using it.
- Cabin luggage
For passengers with visual impairments, it is essential to get sufficient help to stow away luggage inside the cabin. There is often little space, and thus difficult to figure out where to place it. And on arrival, it is then again important that the passenger gets help to find the right luggage.
- To travel alone with a visual impairment
In some airlines, there have been cases where passengers with visual impairments have not been allowed to travel without an assistant. It must be possible for a person with visual impairment to travel without an assistant, and there are thus a number of requirements for personnel to have sufficient competence to be able to exercise this assistance.
- Requirements for the cabin crew
It is important that the staff on board the aircraft have sufficient information on how to assist a passenger with impaired vision. There is a lot that can be challenging, and it is important that you as a passenger with impaired vision do not feel that you have to constantly ask for assistance, but that this comes rather unsolicited.
220.127.116.11 Passengers with a hearing impairment
- Audio-based information
In the event of turbulence, for example, the information will be given orally. This can be stressful for a hearing-impaired passenger. With partially impaired hearing, it can be difficult to get information that is given over speakers as this is often unclear. And for passengers with complete hearing loss, this is impossible. Turbulence is a stressful situation, and if there is not enough information for all passengers, this can make the situation even more stressful.
- Safety briefing
During the safety briefing on board the aircraft, it is essential that you can see the personnel undergoing it. It is also read out over the speakers, but for a passenger with hearing impairment this is not necessarily helpful. Therefore, it is important that the passenger has a seat so that it is easy to see the person carrying out the security check. In addition, you can use the security cards that are available for each passenger, provided that these are present.
- Lack of training of staff
It is essential that the staff on board the aircraft have adequate training when it comes to assisting people with hearing impairments. There are many factors involved in the life of a person with a hearing impairment that can be difficult to know about for a person without this disability, and it is therefore important that staff can provide adequate assistance in all areas required.
18.104.22.168 Passengers with reduced mobility
- Movement inside the aircraft
Moving inside the aircraft for a passenger with reduced mobility is complicated. There are narrow aisles at the same time as there is little space at the seats. There are normally several isles in the aircraft where there is more space, and passengers with reduced mobility should always be offered the opportunity to use them when possible. Emergency exits are an example of rows where there is extra legroom, among other things, but here there can only be passengers who can assist in the event of an emergency. For passengers with reduced mobility, this can be problematic and other seats with more legroom should therefore be offered, such as further ahead in the aircraft.
- On-board wheelchairs
When traveling with a wheelchair, you usually have to use another wheelchair on board the aircraft. The wheelchair is made available by the airline. This is a simpler wheelchair so that you can fit down the aisle. This is often different from the one you usually use, in addition to the fact that it is not suitable for everyone. It can therefore be stressful for passengers with reduced mobility to use this.
- On-board toilets
Airplane toilets are narrow and there is little space. Getting into such a toilet with a wheelchair is complicated, especially if you also need to bring an assistant. Some airlines have planes with double toilets, which means that there are two toilets next to each other and there is often a door in between that can be opened to provide more space for the passenger. This is temporarily very rare on-board aircraft, and most aircraft today are equipped with toilets that consist of a small room.
Boarding can be a stressful experience for people with reduced mobility. If the passenger uses a wheelchair, the boarding should be adapted to the passenger’s needs. Some cases have been reported where passengers have experienced being lifted on board the aircraft, and this can be an extremely stressful situation as this has been done by personnel and not a lift.
Furthermore, it should be possible for the passenger to get on board the aircraft before the rest of the passengers as this can make the situation less stressful for the passengers with reduced mobility, the same applies when disembarking the aircraft.
- Cabin luggage
When it comes to luggage in the cabin, it is not easy for a passenger with reduced mobility to put the luggage in place on their own. In addition, the overhead stowage bins where the luggage is to be placed are often small, and there is little space.
Passengers with reduced mobility often bring with them mobility aids, other than wheelchairs, and it is important that these fit in the cabin.
- Reclinable seats
On most aircraft, the seats can be reclined. For a passenger with reduced mobility, this can be problematic if the front passenger uses this feature. Because the front seat is tilted backwards, this leads to even less legroom.
22.214.171.124 Passengers with cognitive and sensory challenges
- Small amount of space
On board aircrafts it is cramped and there is little space to move around. In addition, the seating is minimal. For a passenger with cognitive impairments, this can be stressful.
- Confusing situations
There can be a number of confusing situations on board an aircraft. An example here is turbulence. In the event of turbulence, the aircraft may begin to shake, and in rare cases, it may cause small drops in altitude. This is both a confusing and a scary situation, and for people with cognitive disabilities, this can feel extra stressful. It is then important that personnel have sufficient experience and knowledge of how to best help and possibly guide the passenger.
- Conveying of information
On board the aircraft, there is a lot of information to be conveyed, including safety briefing, which is mentioned in the section below, but also information about food and drink, when it is allowed to move around the cabin and information about boarding and disembarking. This information should be available to everyone.
- Security briefing
During the safety briefing on board the aircraft, a lot of information is given, and for passengers with cognitive disabilities, it can be problematic to get a hold of everything that is said. It is essential that staff are aware of the situation and that they can provide adequate assistance.
126.96.36.199 Passengers with allergies
- Dogs on board the aircraft
On some flights, there are dogs or other animals on the plane. This can be uncomfortable, if not impossible, for a passenger who is allergic to fur. In the event of such an allergy, it is important that the passenger notifies the airline well in advance so that adjustments can be made. If a ticket has already been ordered by another passenger with animals, for example a service dog, an alternative should then be sought as the rights of both passengers should be taken into account.
- Fabric in seat covers
The seat covers on the aircraft seats are not washed between each flight, therefore they might contain a lot of dust and other allergenic substances that can make it problematic for a passenger with allergies to sit for a long time.
- Foods that are not labeled for allergies
It can be problematic for a passenger with food allergies to find food to eat if it is not sufficiently labeled for allergens. Especially with dishes that are announced orally, such as today’s dish, and which are then often not listed in the menu.
- Air conditioning
Air conditioning inside the aircraft is often poor, which can lead to poor air quality. A flight can take several hours and sitting in a poorly ventilated cabin as a passenger with allergies can be stressful.