We’ve already talked about the services enabling everybody to travel without concerns by train. What if we’d choose a more distant destination, reachable by plane?
No problem with that too! Whether you travel alone or with someone else (if he/she is an healthy adult, he/she could also be your companion), in Italy ora abroad, now every airline offer the assistance services for disabled and/or elderly people, families with children, children travelling alone, etc. Here we’ll just talk about the so-called “special assistance”, the service addressed to disabled (both physical or sensory, temporary – for instance, due to an accident or a surgery- or permanent) and elderly people.
How to request for it? Procedures vary depending on the airline: by phone, on their website using the available chat service after having booked the flight, flagging the appropriate box during the booking process, etc. Anyway, the service is always 100% free. Then, why don’t we benefit from it?
There are a lot of airlines, so I’ll avoid “hidden advertising”: you can find all the info directly on the website of the airline you’ll choose to fly with.
In this post, I’ll simply give you advices to request the service, thanks to about 4 years of direct experience, since I’m a frequent flyer, both for business or leisure reasons.
- Think about it in advance! In case of emergency- and if the flight you want to take isn’t full- the assistance service can be requested even during the check-in, but all the airlines suggest requesting it at least 48 hours before the departure, following the procedures specified on their websites. Furthermore, if you have recently had a surgery or suffer from a disease that could be not totally compatible with flying, make sure to bring with you, at the airport, the MEDIF (Healthcare Information Form for Flights), which must be filled by your general practitioner not earlier than 7 days before the flight. In this document, the doctor, specifying the disease the traveller suffers from and expressing a positive or negative opinion about the opportunity to fly, relieves the flight staff and the airline from any responsibility, should there be issues depending on the disease itself during the flight. Then, if you’re planning your summer holidays, get organized in advance!
- The day of the departure, arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before the take off time: this way, the staff will be able to guarantee the assistance you’ve requested, both inside the airport and on the airplane (if needed).
- Are you changing your reservation, maybe because you decided to stay for a longer time in the place you’re visiting or, due to any other reason, you need to leave back in advance? Remember to contact the assistance service, to make sure they’re aware of the change and avoid unpleasant surprises…
- Do you use a wheelchair, crutches or other aids and/or device (e.g. oxygen)? Communicate it while requesting the assistance, so that the staff is ready to fully assist you.
- Do you need a guide dog or any other animal acting as an emotional support? Relax: it will have the chance to travel with you on board (you won’t need to buy an additional ticket for it and there won’t be weight limits), provided that you’ve communicated it to the airline in advance (should the animal be an emotional support, you’ll need to get a certificate from the specialised doctor explaining why you need it) and you make sure the animal won’t bother the other passengers or the staff during the flight.
- Will you need to take medicines during the flight? Even in this case, you’ll have the opportunity to take with you the amount you’ll need during the journey, presenting at the safety checks a medical certificate released not earlier than 30 days before the departure, clearly specifying their amounts and consumption ways. Should you need needles (which are normally forbidden on board), you’ll have to communicate it to the staff before taking off.
Remember that, based on your needs and the airplane model, airlines have limits to the number of “special assistance” passengers admitted on a single flight: it’s not because they’re evil or insensitive, since it’s just a way to provide the passengers with a service level suitable for their own needs. On the airplane, usually there are seats reserved to these passengers (who, for safety reasons, cannot seat, for instance, near the fire exits), whose amount varies depending on the airplane size. Then, here you have another – very good- reason not to wait ‘til the last minute!
Do you need more info? Refer to the ENAC website or to the airline you’re flying with!