Flying With Additional Needs by Dolores

Holidays are fantastic and worth every penny spent. It refreshes you for the year and it makes such beautiful family memories.

When travelling with a child with additional needs it can be a little difficult at times. However, I have contacted our Irish airlines and the news is good. Both airlines were very helpful so I have lots of news for you.

Firstly, make your booking as normal and keep a note of the reference no. (I add wheelchair user and special assistance here).

Then phone the Special Assistance number associated with the airline. This is so important and don’t wait until the day before you are flying, do it as soon as possible after you have booked.

They will ask for your reference number and they will add priority boarding free of charge for your child which will allow him to take a 10KG on board as well as his 5KG personal item. You just need to pay for your own priority boarding and baggage.

In my case, I explain that David has to sit as near to the back of the aircraft as possible so he can use the bathroom they will do this for you over the phone.

They will also then take into consideration if your child needs assistance from airport to airport and they will book Airport Assistance at that time. On board, the aircraft passengers with additional needs must be able to sit upright in the seat.

Wheelchair Users

If you are travelling with your own manual wheelchair, it travels free of charge, however, the airline needs to know if you have an electronic wheelchair and if so it has to fit the airline dimensions. Passengers aren’t permitted to check in or carry on board any wet-cell batteries, either in wheelchairs or spare batters. For the purposes of loading onto and transport aboard the aircraft, wheelchairs must be capable of disassembly into constituent parts weight not more than 120KGS each. All the dimensions of the wheelchair can be seen online. Also, some airline due to limited space can only accept two Electronic Wheelchairs or Mobility Scooter per flight. David’s electronic wheelchair does not meet the requirements so I hire an electronic wheelchair abroad for the duration of the holiday. It adds to the expense of the holiday but is a must as it gives David more independence.

Blind or Visually Impaired

If you require assistance for their journey or if you’re intending to travel with an assistance dog, it’s important that your special assistance request is made at least 48 hours before you travel and that your dog is a recognised Assistance Dog, and must be trained by an organisation that is accepted by, and affiliated to, the International Guide Dog Federation and must have An EU Pet Passport or EU certificate showing microchip ID and proof of vaccination details can be found at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets/ and it is important to let the airline know well in advance as they may be able to take only 4 assistance dogs on some flights and also depending on the country you are visiting the dog may not be able to travel. If you have a query you can also contact pet@agriculture.gov.ie and the airline well in advance.

Deaf or Impaired Hearing

You can contact the airline to request booking assistance or notify the airline of your requirement please send a special assistance request at least 48 hours in advance and the airport staff/cabin crew will help you if possible, in your preferred method of communication.

If travelling with a child with Autism, Dublin airport has an “important Flyer” badge which I feel is a great assist to any parent and child travelling check it out at https://www.dublinairport.com/at-the-airport/passenger-information/special-assistance/autism-asd

Aer Lingus has also developed a series of visual guides that can be used by families to prepare and familiarise individuals with autism for their upcoming trip. These visual guides follow each stage of a typical journey on Aer Lingus. They welcome any family or companion travelling with someone on the autism spectrum and again send a special assistance request with your booking reference.

Medical Items On-board

If you wish to carry or use Special Medical item on-board you must contact the Special Assistance Team by phone with your reference number again well in advance. Centre items such as portable Oxygen Concentrations must meet regulatory requirements. The special assistance team will determine if your request can be approved and provide authorisation to carry the item. However, passengers should carry a doctor’s letter confirming their requirements.

Medical Equipment Baggage Waiver

A letter is required to carry any medical equipment on board your flight also. Passengers with pre-existing medical conditions who need to carry medical equipment in addition to their checked/hand baggage allowance must contact the Special Assistance Line in advance.

On provision of a doctor’s letter confirming the requirements, a medical baggage waiver letter will be issued. Only Items listed in the waiver letter will be accepted for carriage free of charge. Please ensure that these items are packed separately and available for inspection at the airport.

Nut Allergy

Customers with nut allergies are asked to inform cabin crew when boarding the flight and a public address is then made informing other customers and advising that no products containing nuts will be sold onboard. While other customers are asked not to open peanut products onboard, the airlines cannot guarantee a peanut-free aircraft.

If you are in any doubt about your fitness to fly please consult your doctor before booking your flight. A Fit to Fly Form can be obtained by contacting the Special Assistance Line.