Air travels: what services are available?

The European Union, through the EC Regulation n. 1107/2006, has laid down in all Community airports standard rules that provide a dedicated and completely free of charge assistance, intending to ensure free movement without discrimination.

Depending on the different needs of a PRM passenger (Passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility), universal “codes” have been identified. That allows airport staff, travel agencies, tour operators, and airlines to correctly identify the necessary service and offer the passenger the best travel experience.

Let’s look at them together:


BLND: visually impaired or blind passengers;
DEAF: passengers with hearing disabilities;
DPNA: passengers with cognitive or behavioral disabilities;
WCHR: passengers who cannot travel long distances but can go up and downstairs and move independently;
WCHS: passengers who cannot travel long distances and cannot go up and downstairs but are autonomous onboard the aircraft;
WCHC: Fully stationary passengers who are not self-sufficient on board the aircraft and need full assistance.

carrozzina in aereoporto

It is crucial when booking to be as transparent as possible and not be afraid to ask for advice. The advantages of a well-planned assistance request are undoubtedly two-way, they will facilitate airport staff’s work, mitigate flight delays, and greatly simplify your journey.

Besides the six mentioned above, another “code” of great interest is the one defined as MEDA. Passengers
suffering from certain conditions, who have recently undergone surgery or suffered fractures, must fill in a MEDIF (Medical Information Form). The MEDIF will be carefully evaluated by the airline doctors who will give their approval, or not, depending on the severity of the situation and the airline rules, on flight suitability.

Let’s now look at some steps to keep in mind during the planning phase of a trip.

area attesa in aereoporto

PRE-FLIGHT: BOOKING PHASE

If you book with a travel agency or tour operator, you can contact them directly for assistance.
They will support you and act as an intermediary with the airline. The latter will have the final obligation to transmit the information to the airports involved in your journey.

If you book your flight directly on the airline’s website, it is your responsibility to contact the airline (by telephone, chat, or email) and request the type of assistance you need. A customer service representative will help you correctly define the “code” and provide you with all the necessary details. Again, as in the previous situation, it will then be the airline’s obligation to transmit the information to all the airports involved.

Our advice is to submit your request for assistance at the time of booking to have all the time necessary to organize in peace the flight and any airline requests.

Alternatively, most airlines need you to submit your request for assistance up to 48 hours before departure to ensure the service’s proper organization.

The airport assistance service is, in principle, not denied (except for safety reasons, such as in the case of MEDA passengers, which, as mentioned above, require medical assessment by the company), but waiting times could be extended and annoying. The PRM management staff could already be engaged with other regularly booked passengers.
Always keep in mind the “technical” aspect of the matter. If, for example, you are traveling in electric wheelchairs or oxygen concentrators, the airline must give its permission and technical confirmation that the aids do not fall within the categories of dangerous goods not permitted for air transport.

For this reason, presenting yourself at the last minute, the wait would be very long and, if the equipment is not suitable for air transport, you will not be able to board it… but we will discuss this in-depth in another article here on the blog.

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AT THE AIRPORT: DEPARTURE

Call points are provided outside and inside the terminal, clearly marked and accessible.

After your call, you will be welcomed and assisted by airport staff. They will accompany you, if you wish, at every stage of your stay at the airport: check-in operations, customs, and security controls, boarding, escorted to the seat (if required).

It is essential to arrive at the airport by the time announced by the airline, travel agency, or tour operator.

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ONBOARD: IN FLIGHT PHASE

Once onboard, it is up to the airline to provide proper assistance, in this case, the crew.

Each airline sets precise rules and, for this reason, we prefer not to give specific suggestions. We refer to the internal sites of individual companies (we leave you the links at the end of this article).

In principle, however, assistance on board the aircraft includes:

  • The transport in the cabin (if the dimensions allow it) of recognized guide dogs (again, we will explain this topic more deeply in another article);
  • Free transport of medical equipment and up to two mobility devices (limited to the dimensions of aircraft holds and the transport of dangerous goods);
  • Communication, in accessible formats, of essential flight-related information;
  • The achievement of all reasonable efforts to allocate seating positions considers the passenger and his companion’s needs, if any, in compliance with availability and security requirements. This is in case it was not possible during check-in, but we invite you to ask the check-in staff directly to facilitate the accommodation onboard.
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AT THE AIRPORT: ARRIVAL

Of course! If the assistance has been booked correctly, it also applies to the airport that will welcome you, whether you are in transit at another airport or reached your final destination.

A PRM manager will assist you during the landing phase of the aircraft. He will accompany you inside the terminal and, in case of transit, he will execute with you the steps related to the new boarding.

If, however, you have reached your destination, after disembarkation, they will assist you during any documentary checks on arrival and will accompany you to retrieve your luggage.

Let us know if you have any questions about the assistance and services available at the airport, or if you want to share with us your experience. We will be happy to talk together.

We leave below the links to the websites of the leading companies, will take you directly to the section dedicated to assistance:

https://www.lufthansa.com/be/en/

https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/

https://www.flytap.com/en-it/

https://www.emirates.com/it/

https://www.easyjet.com/en/

https://www.airfrance.it/IT/it/

https://www.klm.com/travel/us_en/

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