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05th December 2011

Travelling By Air? – Know Your Disability Rights

Ahead of the busy Christmas period, the Consumer Council has launched a campaign to increase awareness of passengers’ rights when travelling by air, if they have a disability or reduced mobility. The Council is distributing copies of its ‘Access to Air Travel’ guide to various organisations throughout Northern Ireland, including doctors’ surgeries and disability specialist groups. As part of the campaign, representatives from the Consumer Council will also be at Belfast International airport on 6 and 7 December and George Best Belfast City airport on 12 and 13 December to speak directly to passengers about their rights. People can also download a free copy of ‘Access To Air Travel’ from or call 0800 121 6022 for a copy to be posted.

EU law[1] now means passengers with a disability or reduced mobility have improved rights at all EU airports.  They are entitled to assistance throughout their journey, from booking their flight, check-in, boarding and leaving their destination airport.

Scott Kennerley, Head of Policy for Transport at the Consumer Council said: “Last year, 7.1 million passengers travelled through our local airports.  A significant proportion of passengers have a disability or reduced mobility due to age, an illness or a temporary disability such as a broken limb.  Airports and airlines are required by law to provide services to help passengers when travelling.  Services for assisting passengers with a disability or reduced mobility have improved in recent years, however the Consumer Council wants to ensure more passengers are aware these services exist and that they are available free of charge, especially at this busy time of year when there is a risk that the rights of passengers with a disability or reduced mobility could be overlooked”. 

Continuing he said:  “We also want to make sure that all air passengers are aware of their rights and would like consumers to tell us where services could be enhanced to better meet passengers’ needs.   If they have a complaint and are not satisfied with the response they have received, they can contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 and we can investigate the complaint on their behalf.  Passengers can also come and speak to us directly at Belfast International Airport on 6 and 7 December or at George Best Belfast City airport on 12 and 13 December”.


  1. Consumer Council media contact: Pauline Gordon, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or 079 0997 2704 or e-mail,   
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at


·        The Consumer Council is designated to handle passenger complaints made under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 (the Access to Air Travel Regulation) relating to an airport in Northern Ireland or a flight departing from an airport in Northern Ireland by the Civil Aviation (Access to Air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility) Regulations 2007 (SI2007/1895).

·        The Access to Air Travel Regulation requires all airports and airlines in the European Union (EU) to assist disabled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility when travelling. Airlines licensed in the EU operating flights from a non-EU country into the EU must also assist passengers.

·        The Regulation prevents airlines, tour operators or travel agents from refusing a booking on the grounds of disability or reduced mobility. Restrictions on the carriage of disabled passengers can only be imposed for safety reasons or in cases where the size of the aircraft or its doors prevents access by the passenger requiring assistance.

[1] Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 ‘Access To air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility’.