What are your rights when flying?

After a 10-year-old disabled boy from Lancashire was humiliated by airline staff, we look at the rights and rules for disabled passengers.

Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 9:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th August 2018, 10:08 am
Jack Johnson at Split airport in Croatia

Jack Johnson, 10, from Eccleston, was left fighting back tears after staff at one airport questioned whether he was really disabled.

Jack has a progressive and terminal illness called Duchenne muscular dystrophy and needs a mobility scooter to travel

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His mum Alex said she was appalled by their treatment at Split airport in Croatia.

But what are the rules around disabled travel?

Well, it varies according to where you are.

Countries inside the EU offer the best protection, as passengers with a disability or reduced mobility are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’, when travelling by air.

This means airports and airlines must provide help and assistance, which is free of charge.

Special assistance is available to passengers who may need help to travel such as the elderly, those people with a physical disability, such as wheelchair users, and those who have difficulty with social interaction and communication, such as those with autism or dementia.

This applied when flying on any airline from an EU airport or flying on an EU registered airline to an EU airport

Passengers who want special assistance should aim to give their airline at least 48 hours notice of the help they require.

The help can cover the journey through your departure airport, boarding the aircraft and during the flight, disembarking the aircraft, transferring between flights and travelling through your destination airport.

Similar passenger rights are available in the USA, but once outside the EU or US the provision is drastically reduced and may require a fee paying.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission publishes a booklet on rights while flying on their website.