DISABILITY ACCESS IN THE UK

Persons with disabilities or persons with reduced mobility for UK Operations

Flight journeys and all the intermediate processes can be challenging if you are a person who requires special assistance.

We have made all the arrangements to ensure a comfortable journey for incapacitated guests.

Who are considered incapacitated guests?

Incapacitated guests are defined as those with a physical disability, a neurological disorder or a medical condition requiring individual attention or assistance during the flight and ground handling. This assistance is usually not extended to other guests. However, at the time of booking, a special request for such a requirement can be made by the guest, their family, or medical authority.

Categories

Irrespective of their physical or medical condition, incapacitated passengers are categorised into groups. These groups are identified in airline messages by AIRIMP (ATA/ IATA Reservations Interline Message Procedures) codes, such as   

  • WCHR - Wheelchair-R for ramp (passenger can ascend/descend steps and walk to the seat)  
  • WCHS - Wheelchair-S for steps (passenger unable to ascend/descend steps but able to walk to the seat)
  • WCHC - Wheelchair-C for cabin seat (passenger completely immobile)
  • STCR - Stretcher passenger
  • BLND - Blind passenger (specify if accompanied by guide dog)
  • DEAF - Deaf passenger
  • MEDA - Medical case (medical clearance required)
  • OXYG - Needing oxygen during flight
  • LEGL - Left leg-in cast
  • LEGR - Right leg-in cast
  • LEGB - Both legs in cast 

Safety restrictions

To ensure the safety of aircraft operations, the maximum number of non-ambulatory persons with disability or reduced mobility permitted to travel in a single flight is restricted. Such passengers escorted by trained escorts are considered an exception. The objective of this restriction is primarily the safety of all passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation.

How to ask for assistance

Passengers who require additional assistance at the airport or during the flight must notify Air India when they book their tickets. This should be done at least 48 hours (due to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India requirement) before the intended departure time.

The Air India UK call centre number is 02077603290 (standard call charges apply). It is operational 24 hours throughout the year.

Please note, for any booking made through our website or travel agent, the passenger must inform Air India about their specific needs. This ensures that we have relevant information to provide appropriate assistance to passengers.

Passengers will not be charged any convenience or booking fee for notifying the call centre. For further information on travelling on Air India, please visit our website  or contact our office directly. 

To ensure you have ample time to complete all intermediatory formalities, please report to the airport at least three hours before the scheduled departure time.

Seating on our flights

Seating for passengers with reduced mobility or disability

  • Passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility will be allocated specific seats, facilitating the crew's free movement to perform their duties. The positioning of their seats would be such that the flight team would have easy access to the emergency equipment and not impede the emergency evacuation path of the aircraft. However, efforts are made to ensure that such passengers are conveniently seated close to the washroom and on the aisle for comfort and mobility.
  • Efforts will also be made to allot adjacent seats to the passengers and their escort. 
  • Passengers with stiff legs, fractured legs in plaster, and people with paraplegia, among others, are accommodated in suitable seats with maximum comfortable space. This is done without interfering with safety requirements.
  • Such guests are boarded first and deplaned last for their comfort and convenience.  

Passengers dependent on a wheelchair travelling with an infant or child

  • A passenger dependent on a wheelchair cannot have a child or an infant accompanying them. In such cases, the following procedures will apply- 
  • An infant or child below five cannot travel with a lone Passenger with Restricted Mobility (disabled passenger).
  • An additional hostess must accompany such an infant or child below five years of age.
  • A child above five years of age travelling with a lone passenger with restricted mobility (disabled passenger) will be treated as an unaccompanied minor and will be cared for by our crew accordingly.

Assistance in the air

  • The commander and cabin crew are briefed on all cases, including the passenger’s medical history (if any), to prepare the crew for assistance onboard.
  • Such passengers are assisted in deplaning on arrival. An escort is assigned to the baggage hall or connecting carrier in the event of an onward connection or government formalities. 

Fitness to Fly certificate

Medical clearance is not required

Medical clearance or special forms are not required for passengers with reduced mobility. Such passengers only require special assistance at the airport at the time of embarking or disembarking journey.

  • The Medical Department of any carrier may issue a Frequent Travellers' Medical Card (FREMEC) for passengers who are permanently or chronically incapacitated and do not need medical clearance. Still, it may only require assistance to facilitate their travel.  

A valid FREMEC card issued by the medical authority of any carrier presented within the validity is accepted for travel as medical clearance.

Medical clearance is required

Generally, the following passengers will require clearance from Air India’s Medical Services Department if the passenger

  • Suffers from any disease which is believed to be actively contagious and communicable.
  • Is diagnosed with specific diseases or incapacitation. A person with a prevailing physical condition could have an adverse effect during the flight, safety, and emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Requires medical attention and special equipment to maintain their health during a flight.
  • Has a medical condition that could get aggravated during or because of the flight.
  • Is travelling in a stretcher or incubator on the aircraft.
  • Needs medical oxygen during the flight.
  • Requires extra space to accommodate leg elevation. 

Passengers requiring medical assistance

  • An information sheet (please refer to our website to download the form) must be filled in at the time of booking with all the information on the medical assistance required by the passenger. 
  • Their attending doctor needs to fill out a MEDIF form, where it is determined that medical clearance is required.
  • The completed form must be forwarded to Air India’s Medical Services Department for clearance.
  • In general, MEDIF should reach the medical services department seven days before the day of travel. However, such a request shall be made at least 48 hours (DGCA India requirement) before the scheduled departure. 

When a caregiver is required

A passenger with reduced mobility, who cannot reach an emergency exit without assistance in a reasonable time, must be escorted.

Air India’s medical department can confirm if a passenger should travel with an escort during the medical clearance process. Efforts are made to allot seats to escorts immediately adjacent to the escorting passenger.

Assistance dogs

  • A trained dog to lead the blind will not be carried unless proper permits are obtained for entry into the country or territory of destination and countries of transit where such licenses are required. 
  • All permits are required to be presented at the time of reservation.
  • The dog must be harnessed appropriately, muzzled and vaccinated.
  • The dog may be carried in the passenger cabin or on hold depending upon the individual country’s regulations as well as the size of the dog.
  • The dog shall not be permitted to occupy a seat.
  • The dog will be carried free of charge in addition to the standard free baggage allowance.
  • Carriage will be refused if any country or territory on the route prohibits the entry of dogs. 
  • All formalities required by the government authorities at departure or destination and transit stations must be complied with. 
  • Pets or dogs are not allowed in the cabin or on the hold during ultra-long haul and non-stop flights.

Please head to our carriage of pets page for detailed information about the required documents, sector-based permissions, travelling with a guide dog, and more. 

Oxygen on board

Air India arranges oxygen cylinders free of charge in advance. Air India’s medical department will determine the quantity of oxygen to be carried based on the flow rate advised by the treating physician.

The carriage of personal Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) is permitted, subject to prior clearance by our Medical, Engineering and Commercial Departments. Feel free to get in touch with the airline's office at least 48 hours before the departure.

The POC should be: 

  • FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved
  • Battery operated
  • Passengers should carry enough spare non-spillable batteries (at least 1.5 times the entire flight duration, to be safe) to last the entire flight duration. 

Lavatories on board

  • All lavatories (toilets) on our wide-body fleet are accessible to passengers with restricted mobility.
  • Disabled passengers or persons with reduced mobility are conveniently seated near the toilet and on the aisle for comfort. The allotment of seats is subject to safety regulations.
  • On our wide-body fleet of B777 and B-787, onboard wheelchairs are available to assist passengers in accessing toilet facilities.

Passenger requiring wheelchair assistance at the airport

To facilitate passengers requiring wheelchair assistance at the airport, Air India ensures that wheelchair requests are adequately recorded and confirmed in the reservation record of Air India and interline journey.

Compensation for mobility equipment

Utmost care is taken to ensure the mobility equipment is carried out safely. However, compensation may be provided as per the applicable laws in the unlikely event of damage.

Passengers with restricted mobility helpline

You can reach us at our call centre (02077603290). We are available round the clock to assist you.