Help at hand for passengers needing assistance when flying

Date: 26 June 2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today reminding British sun-seekers who need assistance when travelling by air how they can get any help they need to ensure they enjoy a safe flight this summer.

The message comes as the European Commission begins a campaign to raise awareness of passenger rights. The CAA is backing the campaign to ensure UK passengers can book flights with the confidence that their airport and airline will give them the support they need.

With the peak holiday season almost upon us, the CAA is reminding passengers who require assistance when travelling to get in touch with their airline at least 48 hours before their flight, so they can advise them of the assistance they need.

Under European-wide regulations, all passengers should have fair access to air travel and should not be prevented from travelling because of mobility issues. This means airlines and airports have to assist passengers in moving around the airport, boarding the aircraft and whilst in-flight. The regulations apply to any passengers with mobility needs including those with disabilities, the elderly or passengers who have sustained injuries that restrict their movement.

Iain Osborne, Director of Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said:
“Air travel is for everyone and it’s really important that passengers with mobility needs know that help is at hand to make sure they can travel safely. This help is there so passengers don’t have to worry about moving around the airport, boarding an aircraft or flying all by themselves.

“The key to getting the right level of support is letting your airport and airline know of your needs ahead of your flight. This will then allow them to prepare the assistance you need to enjoy a safe flight.”

The only reason an airline can refuse to board a passenger with mobility needs is if there is a genuine safety reason, such as the passenger is travelling alone and is unable to evacuate themselves in an emergency.

If passengers are unhappy with the support provided by their airline or airport and wish to complain, they should first contact their airline, or if appropriate, their airport. If they are unhappy with the response, they can refer the complaint to the CAA.

Further information on rights for passengers with mobility needs, as well as advice on how to refer a complaint to the CAA, is available at: www.caa.co.uk/passengers. This section also includes useful advice for passengers to use before they travel, as well as information on their rights during disruption. Passengers can also download the European Commission’s passenger rights mobile app, which allows you to access information and advice whilst on the move: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passenger-rights/en/mobile.html

For more information, please contact the CAA Press Office, on press.office@caa.co.uk, or 020 7453 6030. You can also follow the CAA on Twitter at @UK_CAA.

Notes to editors
1. The European Commission’s “Passenger rights at hand” campaign aims to highlight passenger rights for all modes of transport, including air travel. More information is available at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/passengers/campaign/campaign2013_en.htm
2. Rights for passengers with reduced mobility are set out under European regulation EC 1107/2006. The full regulation is available to view at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32006R1107:EN:NOT
3. The CAA is responsible for handling complaints against airports and airlines from passengers with reduced mobility. This applies across the UK, except in Northern Ireland where the responsible body is the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.
4. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.