Travelling by air or sea

Travelling by air

There is a description of facilities for disabled people in most airport passenger information leaflets and websites. All major terminals in the UK are equipped with ramps, dropped kerbs, automatic doors, lifts, accessible toilets, restaurants and shops, and low-level telephones.

It is, however, important that you let the airline know in advance if you think you might need any specific help.

Getting to and from the airport

There are accessible public transport links at several airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, Manchester and Newcastle, but again check to see what facilities they have. If you are going to travel by train, you need to book in advance.


If you are planning to drive to the airport, find out about parking arrangements. Most airports have bays for disabled badge holders in short-term car parks, which are closer to the terminal. Advance warning may be required for long-term parking or for transfer to the terminals by courtesy coach.

Other special requirements

If you are travelling with someone who needs special handling, or has special dietary requirements, you should speak directly to the airline. This applies even if you have booked through and explained the situation to a tour operator, just to confirm details of such requirements have got through.

Procedures at the airport

Procedures at airports vary depending on the authority, the airline and its handling agent. Again you should check directly with the airport if you are worried about anything. Almost every airport globally has a website and you can email them.

On the aircraft

If you need extra leg room, ask; the cabin crew will try to assist you. You might get an upgrade if you enquire. Some airlines carry an aisle chair on every flight, which can be used to move the person you are caring for from their seat to the toilets. If you require one, you should request it when making your reservation. It is also important to find out from the airline about the accessibility of the toilets themselves. If you think it will be difficult for the person you are caring for to use their facilities, perhaps alternative arrangements can be made – including catheters, but do check with the airline.

Travelling by sea

Access to ferries / cruise liners may be a problem, so check with the port and ferry company, as they will arrange assistance if you feel you need it.

Facilities on both ferries and cruise liners will vary, but there should be accessible lifts, toilets, and wheelchair access to public areas on all but a few. However, on older vessels some areas may be inaccessible to wheelchairs – and assistance from crew or travelling companions may be required to negotiate storm sills (in doorways), heavy doors or service lifts. For information on cabin accessibility you should speak to the travel operator direct.