Assistance at the airport

If you need assistance at the airport you have several rights. You must be given help with checking in and sending luggage. You must be given help with moving around, entering/leaving aircraft, collecting luggage in the baggage hall etc. As far as possible the assistance must be adapted to the individual’s particular needs.

If you are disabled or suffer from reduced mobility you are entitled to assistance from the airline and airports of departure and arrival, without extra charge, when travelling within the EU/EEA area. The same applies in the USA, but not necessarily in other countries outside Europe.

Special assistance points

There must be special assistance points, both inside and outside terminal buildings, where persons with disabilities can easily report their arrival at the airport and ask for assistance.

The special assistance points must be clearly marked and contain basic information about the airport.

When should you check in?

Airlines usually specify when you must check in and when boarding starts. Some airlines require passengers who need assistance to check in earlier than the other passengers. If you need assistance you must therefore check the time limit that applies to you.

The airport administration is responsible for the following assistance

The airport administration is responsible for providing people with disabilities or reduced mobility with the assistance needed to enable them to:

  • report their arrival at the airport and ask for assistance at the designated points inside and outside the terminal building.
  • move from the meeting point to the check-in desk.
  • check in and send luggage.
  • move from the check-in desk to the aircraft and go through passport, customs and security controls.
  • board the aircraft, using lifts, wheelchairs or other necessary equipment.
  • move from the aircraft door to their seat.
  • stow and collect luggage inside the aircraft.
  • move from their seat to the aircraft door.
  • leave the aircraft using lifts, wheel chairs or other necessary equipment.
  • move from the aircraft to the baggage hall, collect luggage and go through passport and customs controls.
  • move from the baggage hall to the special assistance point.
  • catch connecting flights when in transit, with assistance as required in the aircraft, on the ground and in and between terminals.
  • go to the toilet.

If people with disabilities or reduced mobility are assisted by a companion, this person must, on request, be given the right to provide the necessary assistance in the airport and when boarding/disembarking.

If your wheelchair or other mobility equipment is lost or damaged, you are entitled to temporary replacement equipment, though not necessarily of the same type.

The airport is required to arrange airport-related services for approved guide dogs.

The airport administration must also ensure that the information which disabled passengers need for their flights is provided clearly and unambiguously.

Waiting time for assistance

Waiting time before you receive assistance depends your having notified your assistance requirements in advance. The size of the airport is also relevant.

At airports with more than 1 million passenger movements per year, you should not have to wait for more than 30 minutes from the time you report your arrival at the departure airport until you receive assistance. You might have to wait for as long as 45 minutes, if you have not notified your need for assistance 48 hours in advance.

At airports with fewer than 1 million passenger movements per year, waiting time must not exceed 15 minutes from when you tell the airport you have arrived, if you have booked assistance in advance. Without advance booking, you risk having to wait for up to 30 minutes.

When you land at an airport with more than 1 million passenger movements per year, waiting time must not exceed 15 minutes from the aircraft being parked until you receive assistance, if you booked assistance at least 48 hours before departure. Without advance booking, waiting time may be up to 40 minutes. This applies to airports with more than 1 million passengers per year.

When you land at an airport with fewer than 1 million passenger movements per year, waiting time shall not exceed 10 minutes from the aircraft being parked, if you have booked in advance. If you have not booked in advance, waiting time may be up to 30 minutes.

The nature of the assistance

When providing assistance, the airport is responsible for ensuring that the individual disabled passenger: 

  • is further assisted if there is a delay or change of gate
  • can access a system for calling for help if he/she needs to go to the toilet, and
  • can access a system that makes it possible to call for assistance with buying food and drink.

If a disabled passenger cannot board without assistance, for physical or technical reasons, assistance shall be provided using the method that best suits the passenger and the helper.