air travel

i need some advice on who/how i complain about traumatic experience at Stansted airports lack of assistance getting offboard and through the airport. waited 15 mins onboard waiting for assistance was then told to walk across the tarmac to main building , 20M, and wait 20 mins for assistance.

Also Nuremberg airport for stress caused by their officials discussing my scooter battery, then the boarding and being pushed and shoved by passengers boarding from the front because the ambilift loaded at the rear and my seat was at the front ! i just broke down in floods of tears when i got to my seat. All got too much.

help your advice please.

hi casey

did you ask for assistance when you booked?

was it a package holiday?

if so, complain to the travel agency.

maybe you could complain to stansted airport because the DDA should have filtered through to them by now.

how disappointing for you.

carole x


hi Carole thanks for replying. yes assistance was booked beforehand and was on boarding pass re scooter and requirements. it wasnt a package holiday so i suppose complaint to the airports, like you say DDA just not sure that covers Nuremberg too.

karen x

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It makes it much worse, seeing as you had booked assistance.

It must be reported…start with the airline you booked with…

same goes for Nuremberg.

This kind of unnecessary angst puts us off flying.




Hi Poll

today i am calmer and have began to write my complaint letter.

i am very angry still .

Civil Aviation Authority is the place to go if i am not happy with airport response to my complaint according to RICA.



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I wrote a huge reply here Katen. Where on earth did it go? I will write later today when less tired. How annoying.! Anne

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oh dear :frowning: i do that too so now i write on a word document and copy and paste. hope you feel rested soon.


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Look forward to hearing what they have to say for their sorry selves!


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Will try and write to.orrow. been a very difficult day but I have a lot to say! Something dear to my heart. Night Anne x

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I’m back.!

This is something very dear to my heart so I was determinded to write to you.

I wil try and keep it short!

I know a lot about air travel and disability travel arrangements. If I tell you anything you already know then I am sorry. However, it may be useful for others.

When making the initial booking always book what help you need.

Check on your boarding card that the help is booked. If not (for some peculiar reason) get to the airport early and go to Special Assistance desk. You can then book the help. Allow extra extra time at the airport for that. I always get to the airport at least 2 hours before departure.

The amiblift/hi-lift can always board at the front or back right hand doors of the aircraft. The only reason I can see for it being used at the back is either there is a problem at the front right door, they are catering from the front door (always done at the front right hand door and rear right hand door). Always make sure that the people helping you know what seat you have. Don’t take it front granted that they know.

When you get on board ask to speak to the In Charge Crew Member. Just remind them that you have a wheelchair booked at your arrival airport. They should check this on their Passenger List.

Cabin Crew always receive a list of passengers on board, although not all passengers. People requiring assistance will always be noted. Don’t ask to speak to another crew member, the message often doesn’t get through in my experience!!

Ask the Crew should you stay in your seat on arrival, until someone comes to collect you (each airline has their own way of doing it)? Some would prefer you to come to the front of the aircraft if at all possible.

At Stannsted they have changed their policy recently. Special Services should arrive at the aircraft side. You make your way down the stairs and they then drive you to the terminal building. There they have the wheelchairs. You then transfer into them and are taken through the terminal. I do not know why therefore you were asked to walk !! which airline was that?

Before leaving the aircraft the Cabin Crew should check your name off their list, therefore you receive the chair that you booked. You could also ask the Special Assistance people if they have your name.

More than once at Stansted my chair has been given awaya to another person. The first time I waited over 40 mins for a chair. The second time I decided to walk myself. It took me over 55 mins to get through the airport on my own. It is not just the walking, it is the waiting in line, getting your own case. All in all it ruined the first two days of my trip, I was in bed.

I have seen many times the chairs are just given away to people who decide for whatever the reason that they don’t want to walk through the terminal. The last time I know for a fact my chair (although I didn’t know it was my chair til later) was given away to a lady who said as it was hot and she was over weight she decided to have a chair!!! I heard her say it.

Also, not all airports have buggies, only wheelchairs.

The Special Services people who run the wheelchairs are nothing to do with the airline. Each airline landing into an airport at any given time is ‘vying’ for the wheelchairs at that airport. So you can imagine the problem Especially if they receive a group of people needing wheelchairs from just one airline.

I would therefore suggest that you complain to the airports where you have had trouble.

I fly with Ryan Air a lot and I have to say I have had a lot of problems with them concerning this matter. The last time I mentioned needing a wheelchair to the crew member when I got on board she was not the In Charge Crew Member. She did not understand my request to pass the message on. Three times I had to ask her. Then she came to me again when I was in my seat to ask what I had said. Needless to say there were problems when I got to Stansted. I was asked,by the same young lady to go to the front of the aircraft to wait. I was sitting in a rear seat! I did what I was told. Only to be told when I got to the front, the wheelchair is waiting by the back stairs! I asked them to bring the chair to the front.

By the time I got to the top of the stairs of the aircraft the bus with Special Assistance had started pulling away! Without me! They were called back to collect me. The lady in charge of Special Assistance when absolutely ballistic! She had had been told she had all her passengers. I had to calm her down! In talking to her she said that Ryan Air were the worst regarding this whole scenario. The crew had no idea of how to organise the giving of the wheelchairs to the right people. This is my experience also.

If a request is made on board the aircraft for a wheelchair, but not booked earlier, then these people have to take second chance (can’t think what the word is now that I need!)

I would not fly Ryan Air unless I absolutely needed to.

We are continually treated as second best and it has to stop.

Please please do complain every time this happens. That is the only way we may start to change things in this able bodied world.

I know I said this would be short! Sorry! I had a lot of info to pass on.

It has taken me an age to write this. Sorry for any typos but hope it can be read.

Lost some of the use down my right hand side at the mo and causing me lots of problems.

Good Luck and let me know how you get on.



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Excellent informative post Anne. Ditto with Ryanair assistance and ditto with my pre booked chair been “taken” by someone who’s decided it looked handy, and they happened to be at the front of the plane thus getting off before me. This has happened on three occasions!

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OMG that’s atrocious !! hope you complained every time. x

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Hi Anne

Thank you for taking the time and putting in such an enormous amount of effort.

A lot of what you wrote i did know and the assistance was all pre-booked and noted on my boarding pass.

i have written to both Ryanair and Stansted and they have both replied apologising for the incident. They are both investigating and getting back to me so i will let you know what the outcome is. i hope you complained too.

Disabled people have a right to be treated with respect .Travel is supposed to have been made easier but on this occasion it was a ball of stress.

i will not let it go and am prepared to go to Civil Aviation Authority if i have to.

I hope you begin to regain use of your right side soon xx


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I wrote a longish reply but it got lost . Basically complain and complain loudly. I have to balance things a bit and say I love Ryanair. Fly a lot with them. And have always (up to now anyway) had great special assistance with them all over Europe… They never give me hassle with my Li ion battery for my TRAVELSCOOT (unlike some other airlines). Their cabin crew have gone out of their way to help me. Even on one occasion boarding me at the back first while everyone else got on at the front only until I was on the plane then they used both doors. Always seem to give me seats at the back. Dublin airport was the best yet. Totally stress free. Never been to Stansted though.

I don’t have a choice of carrier from Cork to Las Palmas, for the times I wish to fly. Ryanair are great and helpful, but once in Spain… that’s a different story!

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Travelling by aircraft seems a daunting experience for anyone Disabled in wheelchair or not, but in reality it isn’t it can be a seamless experience as you are helped every step of the way, (that’s not meant as a pun).

I worked for British Airways for 26 years, as such travelled to many parts of the World. In fact in 1988 I travelled twice around the World, some 48,000 miles in 5 days on aircraft, sponsored for Charity. Not something I would recommend but shows you it is possible.

Stick to these guidelines and you will really enjoy the experience. First on booking your flight tell them you would like assistance from check-in to the gate. This could be a wheelchair with someone pushing or a lift on a Golf type buggy. The gate could be over one mile away so don’t think your doing any favour’s by not asking for help. The aircraft has a certain slot for take off, if you are late because of walking difficulties, THE AIRCRAFT HAS TO GO without you, otherwise it costs mega bucks.

If you have problems walking down the isle when you get aircraft side, no problem, quite a few aircraft now have small wheelchairs especially to take people up and down the isle. If you can’t walk whatsoever, no problem, tell them and facilities will be put in place from check-in to take you to the aircraft by ambulance, high lift you to the aircraft and trained medical staff to lift you in the seat. The golden rule here is ‘tell them.’

With some airlines you can pre-book your seat. If so get one that has more leg room and near the toilets, probably a bulkhead seat. The Civil Aviation Authority has made a ruling that no Disabled person can have a seat by an Emergency Exit for obvious reasons.

If for some reason you get to your destination and your wheelchair is missing or worse still damaged it is the airlines, or should I say good airlines signed up to something called the Haig Protocol to restore or repair your chair, see the airlines staff.

I remember I went to San Diego from Gatwick once and they left my chair behind. I was in a rush had to go down to Tijuana and the only one they had to loan me had a large sign above my head saying ‘AVIS Rent a Car.’ The times I was stopped in my Hotel by people saying “hey fella, where can I get a car.”

As a matter of interest wheelchairs go to the front of any que. Do not think you are being rude you and your pusher go to the front.


This is all about British Airways; which doesn’t help you much. Stanstead believe it or not is owned by Manchester Airport so I would first try you airline; they received the revenue for your ticket

Disability assistance

To help us provide you with the necessary service for your needs please let us know how we can help you. Here you will find all the important information you need about:

  • Airport Authority’s responsibility within the EU (European Union)
  • Mobility assistance at the airport and in-flight
  • Assistance for visually impaired passengers
  • Assistance for hearing impaired passengers
  • Travelling with a Guide or Assistance Dog
  • Other additional needs

Flights operated by our airline alliance or franchise partners may have their own restrictions so please contact us before you fly.

Airport authority responsibility within the EU

It is now the responsibility of the airport operators, within the EU to assist anyone with a disability during their time at the airport. This includes intellectual disability or impairment, age or any other cause of disability.

Airlines should provide the airport operator with advance information so that the appropriate service can be offered. To enable us to pass your request to them, where possible, please contact us 48 hours in advance.

Contact us

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Mobility assistance at the airport and in-flight

Mobility assistance provided at the airport

If you need mobility assistance to help you through the airport, please request it once you have made your booking, so that this service can be provided.

If you already have a booking with British Airways you can request mobility assistance through Manage My Booking.

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Travelling with your own wheelchair

Once you have made your booking with us, please inform us if you are travelling in your own wheelchair or other mobility aid, so that we can make the necessary arrangements to help you make the most of your journey.

  • We will store collapsible wheelchairs and mobility aids in the aircraft cabin, where space is available. If space is not available in the cabin, your wheelchair will be carried in the hold.
  • You can take up to two mobility aids e.g. 2 wheelchairs will be carried free of charge in addition to the applicable checked baggage allowance.
  • Wherever possible you will be able to stay in your own wheelchair/mobility aid to and from the aircraft side. If required you will be transferred to another wheelchair to take you to your seat on the aircraft.
  • At airports where it is not possible to take your wheelchair/mobility aid to the gate we may have to take it at check-in and give it back to you in the arrivals baggage hall of your destination airport. If we do this we will transport you from check-in to the aircraft in another wheelchair, or buggy where appropriate and, on arrival, from the aircraft to the baggage hall of your destination airport.
  • We need to know about the size and weight of your wheelchair so please have these details to hand when you tell us you are bringing it with you.
  • If you already have a booking with British Airways you can request mobility assistance to help you through the airport via Manage My Booking.

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Preparing battery powered wheelchairs for travel

It is your responsibility to provide sufficient information about your wheelchair/mobility aid and batteries prior to travel.

Dependant upon the type of wheelchair/mobility aid being used, a number of safety measures will need to be taken before the flight and you will need to provide information to enable airport staff to assist you. Typical examples of those safety measures to be taken are detailed below.

For wheelchairs/mobility aids with dry cell batteries or non-spillable (including gel) batteries

Protect the wheelchair/mobility aid from inadvertent operation i.e. remove the key, deactivate using the joystick, deactivate using an isolation switch or buttons.

If you cannot do this you will need to disconnect the battery and protect it against short circuiting by insulating battery terminals.

For wheelchairs/mobility aids powered by wet-cell (spillable) batteries

  • Remove all connections from the battery terminals.
  • Protect the battery terminals to prevent short circuits by covering the terminals with electrical insulating tape or plastic caps.
  • Ensure that the battery(or batteries) is securely fastened and installed in the wheelchair/mobility aid battery tray.

To ensure safe carriage of your wheelchair/mobility aid it would be very helpful if you brought the manufacturers instructions (re: disconnection of batteries) with you to the airport.

Please note that you cannot travel with wet-cell batteries for any purpose other than for powering wheelchairs.

Companions providing assistance will be required if you are unable to independently:

  • lift yourself
  • reach an emergency exit unaided
  • communicate with the crew on safety matters
  • unfasten a seat belt
  • retrieve and fit a life jacket
  • fit an oxygen mask

The crew cannot assist you with breathing apparatus, eating, medication or going to the toilet, although they will help you get to and from the toilet when there is an on-board wheelchair available.

Facilities on board the aircraft

  • On-board wheelchairs are available on all flights over 5 hours.
  • Adapted toilets with handrails on Boeing 747 aircraft. There are no adapted toilets or on-board wheelchairs on flights of less than 5 hours.
  • A number of seats with lifting armrests for ease of access.
  • We will do our best to allocate you a seat that is most suitable to your needs. We will not be able to seat you in an emergency exit or cross aisles which form part of an emergency exit, due to safety regulations.

Contact us to request your seat

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Visually impaired passengers

If you are visually impaired, please contact us so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

The assistance that we offer visually impaired passengers is:

  • An escort to and from the aircraft.
  • Individual safety briefings and assistance during the flight.
  • Braille cards are available on some flights and assistance is given to visually impaired and blind passengers.

Contact us

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Hearing impaired passengers

If you are hearing impaired, please contact us so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

The assistance we can offer hearing impaired passengers is:

  • An escort to and from the aircraft.
  • Separate briefings about safety procedures.
  • Subtitles on the English version of the in-flight safety video.
  • Induction loop facilities are available at most airports and on board through our in-flight headphones.
  • Headphones compatible with standard hearing aids switched to the ‘T’ position.

Contact us

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Travelling with Guide/Assistance Dogs

Certified Assistance Dogs for blind, deaf or disabled passengers travel free of charge in the aircraft cabin on all British Airways services within the UK.

In addition Assistance Dogs that are compliant with the Pet Travel Scheme may be carried, in the cabin of the aircraft on certain international routes.

Find out about the Pet Travel Scheme

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Other additional needs

If you have any other additional needs that may require assistance from British Airways, please contact us.

Contact us

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US rule for non-discrimination on the basis of disability

British Airways is covered by this rule for any flight that begins or ends at a US airport. A full copy of the rule is available for viewing on request at our airports serving the US.

An accessible copy of the rule can also be obtained from the US Dept of Transport directly using the following methods:

  • For calls made from within the United States, by telephone via the Toll-Free Hotline for Air Travelers with Disabilities at 1-800-778-4838 (Voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY)
  • By Telephone to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at 202-366-2220 (Voice) or 202-366-0511 (TTY)
  • By mail to the Air Consumer Protection Division, C-75, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., West Building, Room W96-432, Washington, DC 20590
  • On the Aviation Consumer Protection Division’s Web site -
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Now has everybody got this???