Assistance for Passengers with Reduced Mobility
With effect from 26th July 2008 all European airports will operate an assistance service for passengers with reduced mobility (in compliance with the European Parliament regulation EC1107/2006).
The articles of the Regulation apply to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility using commercial passenger air services at an airport situated in European Union territory.
Generally an airline passenger is considered to have reduced mobility when they need assistance to reach the exit door of the aircraft with enough speed to cope in an emergency evacuation. This also includes passengers who have serious difficulties in receiving or understanding emergency instructions.
This new regulation stipulates that it is the responsibility of the airport managing bodies (Aena in the case of Spanish Airports) to provide this assistance, whereas previously the individual airlines were expected to do this through their ground handling agents.
Booking your Ticket
When booking your ticket make sure you provide information about your special needs and specify your requirements as clearly as possible. Be realistic about this, especially if you cannot walk long distances without help, as assistance can only be guaranteed if requested in advance.
- It is recommended that you make your booking seven days in advance, but at least 48 hours prior to departure to ensure that the assistance you require will be available.
- Articles 3 and 4 of the Regulation states that the airlines, their agents or tour operators may exceptionally refuse, on the grounds of disability or reduced mobility, to accept a reservation from a person with reduced mobility. For this reason, they may require at the time of booking that a passenger with special needs be accompanied by another person who is capable of providing the assistance required.
- If the booking is not accepted or an accompanying person is required the passenger must be notified immediately or can request the reasons be sent in writing within five working days from the request.
- Also if the booking is not accepted for the reasons indicated, the airlines, their agents or tour operators have to make reasonable efforts to propose an acceptable alternative to the passenger.
- If, after having accepted the booking, boarding is denied, the airline, their agents or tour operators shall offer reimbursement of the ticket or alternative transport subject to all safety requirements, as provided for in Regulation (EC) 261/2004.
- The request for assistance and the notification of needs must be made through the following channels: your travel agent or airline when making the booking or acquiring the ticket. Once the booking has been made, it is important to check that your request for assistance is acknowledged in the booking. If you only communicate your needs through this channel, when arriving at the departure airport go to the nearest Meeting Point and notify them of your arrival.
- You can request assistance at Spanish airports through the Aena web page www.aena.es or by ringing the Aena Telephone Information and Help Service (+34 902 404 704). When making the request for assistance through Aena, you must choose the Meeting Point (see below*) you will go to on your arrival at the airport.
At the Spanish departure airport
In very general terms the service or assistance to be provided to passengers with reduced mobility consists of:
*Appropriately signposted Meeting Points in Spanish Aena airports both inside and outside the terminals (vehicle parking, arrivals forecourt, check-in area), where people with disabilities or reduced mobility can announce their arrival at the airport and request assistance.
In the airport terminal people with reduced mobility are permitted to stay in their own wheelchairs up to the door of the aircraft provided that the chair is manual and it is not necessary to go up or down stairs. Otherwise Aena will provide a wheelchair for travel and return your wheelchair on arrival at the destination.
Aena undertakes to provide the following assistance:
- collection of the passenger at the stipulated Meeting Point
- assistance with hand luggage
- accompanying the passenger to the check-in desk and assistance with the check-in procedures
- accompaniment to the boarding area, passing through the security checkpoints, customs. Help in boarding the aircraft, and accompanying the person to their seat.
Boarding the Aircraft in Spain
When boarding the aircraft if a folding wheelchair is used it can be stowed in the passenger cabin if there is space. If the wheelchair has batteries it must go in the aircraft hold during the flight for security reasons, and if you require a wheelchair on board the aircraft it must be requested when making the booking.
The cabin crew may take crutches and walking sticks away from passengers prior to take-off to store them appropriately.
Once on board passengers should ensure that they have all their necessary medication in their hand luggage with a sufficient supply in case of delay.
If the passenger has a sensory disability the airline staff should present themselves and offer an appropriate level of service to the passenger during the flight. For example, they will explain all the emergency procedures and provide assistance with the food containers.
If the passenger has a breathing disorder and needs extra oxygen during the flight, the airline will provide oxygen on board. Some airlines charge for this service and regulations prohibit passengers from carrying their own oxygen.
If you are travelling with a guide dog it can board with you without any additional charge, but it must be equipped with muzzle, collar and lead. If the dog is to travel in the cabin it will be placed next to you as indicated by the crew.
The airline must make available the security regulations that apply to the transport of people with disability or reduced mobility in accessible formats: at least in the same languages used to provide information to other passengers.
At the Spanish arrival airport
According to current civil aviation regulations, people with disabilities and/or reduced mobility must pass through the same security controls as the other passengers with searches being carried out as much as their condition allows.
Aena undertakes to provide the following assistance:
- assistance with hand luggage
- accompanying the person from their seat to the door of the airline and debarkation
- transfer to the baggage hall, passing through the required controls, and transfer from there to the Meeting Point in the destination airport (if it is in a European Member State).
Passengers in transit/connections
The necessary assistance will be provided to successfully carry out the transit or transfer, including boarding, debarkation, transfer through the terminal, etc
If you consider that you have not received suitable treatment during the assistance provided by Aena at the Spanish airport, and you wish to make a complaint or suggestion by e-mail, you can do so at email@example.com or make use of the Aena complaint form, which you will find at the airport information desks.
If you consider that your booking was not accepted or you were denied boarding without justification, you can write a letter of complaint to the airline, your agent or to the appropriate operator or use the complaint forms available.
If you do not receive an answer or are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you can make a complaint to the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority.
Airlines Assistance Codes
The airlines use internationally recognised codes to identify the level of assistance to be provided to a PRM in each case. The codes are:
- WCHR: passengers who require assistance during the transfer from aircraft to terminal but are capable of boarding and moving around the aircraft alone.
- WCHS: passengers who require assistance between the aircraft and terminal and on boarding but are capable of moving around the aircraft alone.
- WCHC: passengers with no mobility who are not self-sufficient. They must be accompanied to their seats and require complete personal assistance. For journeys exceeding three hours, these passengers must have an escort.
- DEAF: passengers with hearing impairments.
- BLND: passengers with vision impairments.
- DEAF/BLND: passengers with hearing and vision impairments for whom an accompanying person is required.
- STCR: passenger on a stretcher.
- MAAS: passenger who requires assistance.
- WCHP: passengers who require assistance to their seats but who are capable of moving around the aircraft in a wheelchair and are self-sufficient in their personal care.