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UK Flights - Tips for Disabled Travellers
In the 21st century, air travel has become an extremely complex and tedious process due primarily to existing and emerging terrorist activity. This situation makes travelling especially problematic for handicapped, mentally-challenged, physically-impaired and elderly travellers.
British Airways and the US-based carriers for flights from the UK travelling through US airspace have made outstanding efforts to accommodate disabled or impaired passengers, however, there are certain responsibilities incumbent on the traveller and the person arranging the air travel. In many cases advanced notification is necessary in order to coordinate airline resources and alert the cabin and baggage handling crews when special handling is involved.
Each major carrier has a web-based set of services for the elderly and disabled. Included are explicit instructions, the degrees and levels of assistance provided and what provisions are made to accommodate special needs. This specifically includes the transport of powered scooters and wheelchairs, special instructions regarding dry cell, gel cell and wet-cell batteries. Wet-cell batteries are generally only allowed on aircraft which are required for powered devices required by the disabled.
There are a variety of services for in-cabin mobility during flight. Additionally, there are seats with modifications such as moveable armrests and accessible locations reserved for physically handicapped passengers.
Most – if not all – accommodations for the disabled are provided at no additional cost, including the transportation of powered chairs.
While all carriers meet minimal requirements, many carriers seek to exceed the mandated minimums with proactive and forward-thinking facilities and services. As with shopping for any service, a little due diligence on the part of the traveller – or the traveller's facilitator – can make the experience as pleasant as can be reasonably expected. There are several outstanding portal sites on the internet that cater to passengers with mobility issues and can direct travellers to services at the destination which are compatible with their disability.
The Official Airline Guide (OAG) Airline Industry Awards committee annually examines flight documents and based on impartial evaluation determines the best international airlines and their level of service. British Airways is almost always a multiple award winner. American Airlines, Continental Airlines US-based carriers also garner top awards. Singapore Airlines has been a consistent winner in the international air travel business. It is always a good idea to look at the OAG website for the latest press releases to serve as guidance.
Having a disability shouldn't be a hindrance to travelling. Whether on business or pleasure, the airline industry – for all its restrictions and regulations – provides services above and beyond expectation. With a little preparation and some advance notice given to the air carriers, travelling can be pleasant and rewarding.