Contact Us On
020 7702 2141

Accessible Travel – ABTA

Advice on how to work with your travel provider to book appropriate holidays that meet your needs at every stage of the journey.

Travel can be challenging for everyone, but if you have any kind of disability you may be worried about getting the assistance you need. ABTA works with its Members and tourism suppliers worldwide keeping them up-to-date with the latest requirements and providing training and advice when needed.

You can find guidance on how to work with your travel provider to book appropriate holidays that meet your needs at every stage of the journey; as well as information about your legal rights, on this page, or the original ABTA Accessible Travel page (Page URL > Bottom of page).


Accessible Travel at the Airport

To ensure your holiday gets off to a flying start, less mobile passengers should notify the airport at least 48 hours in advance if you need assistance.


Checklist for Disabled and Less Mobile Passengers

ABTA want everyone to enjoy completely successful travel arrangements. If you have a disability or a medical condition requiring special transport, accommodation or dietary arrangements, they strongly recommend that you complete this checklist at the time you make your booking and give it to your travel agent or tour operator, or ask your travel organiser to do so on your behalf.

If you have any specific needs for equipment or medication, you can use the checklist for this information, too. The questions aren’t meant to be intrusive. The information you provide will be treated confidentially and will only be used to check that the transport, accommodation and facilities in the destination are right for you. It all helps to ensure you receive a quality service tailored to your particular needs. 


Cruise and ferry passenger rights

For disabled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility

If you’re travelling on a ferry or cruise ship that departs from the UK, or elsewhere in the EU, there’s an EU Regulation that gives you rights if you’re disabled or a person with reduced mobility.

The EU Regulation defines a ‘disabled person’ or ‘person with reduced mobility’ as: ‘any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced as a result of any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or as a result of age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and adaptation to his particular needs of the service made available to all passengers’.

Your rights as a passenger, in respect of disability and reduced mobility, applies at all stages of your dealings with a ferry or cruise operator (before, during and after travel) and whilst present in ports with staffed terminals.

Click Here to view information on – Right to Transport, Things to Consider, Assistance, Assistance in the Port, Assistance on Board, Assistance Dogs and Ferry Complaints.

Making travel accessible

Guidance for every step of your journey

Travel can be challenging for everyone, but if you have any kind of disability you may be worried about getting the assistance you need. ABTA works with its Members and tourism suppliers worldwide keeping them up-to-date with the latest requirements and providing training and advice when needed.

In this section you’ll find guidance on how to work with your travel provider to book appropriate holidays that meet your needs at every stage of the journey; as well as information about your legal rights.

ABTA know that it’s vital for customers to understand and make their own minds up about what assistance they will need, including getting adequate information about walking distances at airports or onboard large ships.

They also know it’s vital to help customers provide the right information about their needs to the right people at the right time. That way the Members and those working in the travel industry don’t make assumptions about disabled customers. And you can enjoy a hassle-free holiday.

The ABTA’s practical help offers advice and information for every stage of your journey: planning and booking before you go; the journey itself; accommodation and activities; travelling with mobility equipment; insurance and more.

More information

If things go wrong in destination

British nationals take many millions of trips overseas every year, most of which pass without incident. However, if you get into difficulty, such as falling sick, being a victim of crime or facing an emergency, go to the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. A directory of all overseas offices is on the FCO website. Your holiday rep, local guide, hotel or local police should also have this information.

If you need help in a country where there’s no British diplomatic or consular office, you can get help from the diplomatic or consular office of another EU country. The UK also has informal arrangements with some Commonwealth countries, including New Zealand and Australia.

Useful links and further information for travellers with a disability

Accessible air travel for disabled people: Code of Practice.

Travelling with pets: Pet Travel Scheme.

Blue Badge driving scheme: Mobility and Inclusion Unit at the Department for Transport.

Discrimination advice and guidance: Equality & Human Rights Commission.

Disabled Living Foundation.

Meru TravelChair.

Tourism for All.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) helpline number 0303 123 9999.

The Civil Aviation Authority deals with complaints about UK airlines and airports in England, Scotland and Wales. They can supply free advice on how to get the right service.


Planning your trip

Giving your travel company as much information as you can will help you to plan a great holiday. Be realistic and list your particular needs in different holiday situations: booking, travelling, transfers, accommodation, getting out and about in the destination. Consider how independent, comfortable and healthy you’re likely to be in different environments and climates, and in places where language may also be a challenge.

Key tips

  • Consider the assistance you and those you are travelling with may need at each stage of your holiday.
  • Travel providers, tour operators and disability organisations in the UK, and the Embassy or High Commission of the country you plan to visit can help you plan.
  • Your disability or health condition and the facilities offered by the travel provider will affect the type of holiday you choose.

Click Here to view information on – Booking, Choosing your Accommodation, Transport on Holiday and Insurance.


The journey

Point of departure

Finding your way around an airport, port or station can be tricky – a bit of planning can help. In advance, try to find out about the layout and the distances involved, for instance from arrival point to check in, departure lounges to gates etc. And make sure you know where help points are situated where you can make your arrival known. Help points should be clearly marked.

If you use a wheelchair, you may be allowed to stay in your own chair to the boarding gate (depending on the type/severity of your disability and if your wheelchair can be loaded at the gate). If not, you will be transferred to a boarding wheelchair and your own chair checked in. Wheelchair users are usually boarded first, and you can ask to be pre-boarded.

If you are hearing or visually impaired, you may wish to tell staff at check in and the gate, so that you don’t miss announcements or changes to departure display screens.

Key tips

  • Arrive early for your departure. If a disability makes queuing difficult, make yourself known to check in staff – they must provide assistance.
  • Confirm pre-booked assistance when you check in. Ensure that onboard staff are made aware of any concerns you may have.
  • Online check in – you should be able to confirm the assistance you require and select the most appropriate seat.
  • Self-service check in – staff should be available to help you.
  • Security checks are made on all disability equipment and mobility aids, including wheelchair gel cushions. Make security staff aware of your needs.
  • If you need to carry liquid medicines or medical equipment in your hand luggage, you will need a letter from your doctor to show at security. Your doctor may charge for this letter.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dog owners can bring their dogs out of and into the UK on many air, sea or rail routes, providing it is an ‘approved route’ and that all requirements of the EU Pet Travel Scheme are fully met.

The Civil Aviation Authority requires assistance dogs carried in the cabin to be correctly harnessed on take-off/landing, not to obstruct emergency exits and to be accredited by Guide Dogs for the Blind or another approved organisation. Access to Air Travel for Disabled People – Code of Practice contains more info.


Published: 11th March 2020

Source: ABTA Ltd

Published: https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/accessible-travel