Yes – if you have a disability or reduced mobility you are legally entitled to a wheelchair free at the airport. This is sometimes known as special assistance.
Special assistance includes:
- a wheelchair free at the airport
- help at specific arrival points, such as at terminal entrances, at transport interchanges and in car parks
- help to reach check-in
- help with registration at check-in
- help with moving through the airport if you need it, including to toilets
- help to board the plane
Where can I get a wheelchair free at the airport?
Free special assistance by law does not exist in every country in the world. The UK, EU and US all have the right to special assistance for air passengers stipulated in law.
Please see below for details, and click on the links if you wish to know more:
- US Law: Part 382 – Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in air travel.
- EU Law: Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2006 – The rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
- UK Law: When the UK exited the EU on 31st January 2020, it retained the EU regulation 1107/2006 (see above).
And this is likely to be the case for some other parts of the world too. But in some countries you may have to pay a fee to use a wheelchair at the airport. So it’s important that you check with the airline and airport that you will be travelling with to find out about their accessibility options.
Who is eligible for a wheelchair free at the airport?
In general, anyone with a disability or reduced mobility is legally entitled to a wheelchair free at the airport. For example, the elderly, those people with a physical disability and those who have difficulty with social interaction and communication, such as those with autism or dementia.
If you want specifics, here are the EU and US legal definitions for ‘disabled person’ and ‘person with reduced mobility’:
‘Disabled person’ or ‘person with reduced mobility’ means any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers.’
‘Individual with a disability means any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.’
For further legal details, see the US and EU law links above.
What if I get refused a wheelchair free at the airport?
Basically, you don’t have to worry about getting refused assistance because your disability or mobility level doesn’t qualify. The definitions are broad and if you think you fall under that category, whether temporarily or permanently, then that’s enough. You don’t have to show proof that you’re eligible for airport special assistance and nobody should ask you to.
What to do next?
I hope that’s helpful information and answers your questions!
So now you know that you can get a wheelchair free at the airport, check out the article below to find out just how to get that wheelchair: