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Flying with a wheelchair: Essential Onboard Wheelchair Guidelines for Airlines Worldwide

February 9, 2024
Regulations

Most airlines will always aim to provide a safe and easy way for passengers with reduced mobility to move around their aircraft. For those who fly and operate on a global scale, navigating the varying rules and regulations surrounding the use of onboard wheelchairs in different regions of the world can be a challenge. For those airlines, this blog is a guide to onboard wheelchair regulations and recommendations for flying with a wheelchair, providing advice on how to meet the standards anywhere in the world.

Onboard wheelchair regulations in the United Kingdom (UK)

The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and DPTA (Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee) confirm that wheelchair users in the UK are entitled to special assistance on commercial aircraft free of charge. Airlines may require up to 48 hours advance notice of the assistance required during the flight, including assistance moving around the cabin and to the lavatory. This right to assistance applies in the following circumstances:

  • Flying on any airline from a UK airport.
  • Flying on an EU or UK-registered airline to a UK airport.
  • Flying from outside the UK or EU to the EU on a UK carrier.

The CAA works with the aviation industry to ensure that standards are understood and met, including the recommended equipment of onboard wheelchairs, so that all passengers can travel as comfortably as possible without concerns for safety.

flying with a wheelchair

Onboard wheelchair regulations in the European Union (EU)

The European Parliament has also established rules for protecting and providing assistance to passengers with disabilities when flying with a wheelchair. These regulations are enshrined in EC 1107/2006 and are similar to those framed by the Air Carrier Access Act in the United States.

EC 1107/2006 applies to:

  • Commercial passenger air services departing from, transiting through, or arriving at airports situated in the territory of a Member State of the European Union.
  • Flights operated by an EU carrier that depart from an airport in a third country and arrive at an airport within the European Union. For example, if an Emirates flight arrives in Paris, France, from Dubai, UAE.

Annex II of the regulation requires that all aircraft carry “up to two pieces of mobility equipment per disabled person or person with reduced mobility (subject to advance warning of 48 hours and possible limitations of space on board the aircraft, and subject to the application of relevant legislation concerning dangerous goods).”

Onboard wheelchair regulations in Asia, Middle East, Africa and the rest of the world

When it comes to onboard wheelchair provision, regulations and standards vary significantly between different countries and airlines across much of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In these regions, the rules are often less clear, and airlines may require passengers to apply for special assistance well in advance of their flight. However, airlines based in these regions flying with a wheelchair to and from the USA, EU and UK will still be required to adhere to local regulations in most cases.

Have you considered the Airchair?

The variety of regulations that exist across the world require airlines to act and always be prepared. The Airchair provides an easy and cost-effective way to ensure your aircraft always meets the required standards, no matter where they depart or land.

The Airchair’s neat design means it can be folded and stored in existing on-board overhead storage lockers, therefore requiring no additional installations or approvals. Weighing only 6kg, it’s incredibly lightweight with a robust carrying capacity of up to 250kg, making it fuel-efficient and convenient for cabin crew to manoeuvre.

Even in places with less stringent regulations, the Airchair will allow you and your crew to be flexible and ready for all scenarios.

If you would like to know more about how the Airchair can help you to satisfy legislation surrounding the use of onboard wheelchairs, get in touch with our team here.

Sources:

Passengers with disabilities and reduced mobilityCivil Aviation Authority. Available at: https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/PRM/Passengers-with-disabilities-and-reduced-mobility/.

Accessing special assistance on your flight, Civil Aviation Authority. Available at: https://www.caa.co.uk/passengers/prm/accessing-special-assistance-on-your-flight/.

European Union Disability Right in Air Travel EC 117/2006Wheelchair Travel. Available at: https://wheelchairtravel.org/air-travel/european-union-disability-rights-air-travel/.

Flying with a Power Wheelchair in China, EasyTour China. Available at: https://www.easytourchina.com/blog-v1590-tips-for-flying-with-a-power-wheelchair-in-china.

Services for Customers with Special Needs Traveling to/from the USA, Ethiopian Airlines. Available at: https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/aa/information/special-needs/services-for-customers-with-special-need.

Special Assistance, South African Airways. Available at: https://www.flysaa.com/manage-fly/before-flying/special-assistance.

Accessible Travel, Emirates. Available at: https://www.emirates.com/uk/english/before-you-fly/health/accessible-travel/.

Wheelchair Services, Saudia. Available at: https://www.saudia.com/before-flying/special-assistance/special-care/travelling-for-people-with-a-disability/wheelchair-services.

Special Assistance, China Airlines. Available at: https://www.china-airlines.com/kr/en/fly/prepare-for-the-fly/special-assistance/index.