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Air travel for people with disabilities 

Flying can present challenges for passengers with a disability, however, this should not restrict your freedom to fly. With good planning and by making your airline aware of your needs, you should be able to overcome the challenges air travel might pose for you.

Travel planning

To ensure that any assistance you may require can be put in place for you, you will need to plan ahead. Endeavour to book at least several days in advance. Although airlines state the minimum notice is 48 hours before a flight, they can possibly refuse your booking. This is because, for safety reasons, airlines can only accommodate a small number of passengers with reduced mobility on one flight at any one time. Also, if assistance is requested less than 48 hours before the flight time, there may be insufficient time to organise it with the airport.

Your airline will send the details of your required assistance to the airports you are flying to and from. The airport assistance providers at your departure airport will prepare to meet you and take you to the aircraft, providing equipment where necessary. The airline will also inform Palma airport, so the ground staff will be prepared for your arrival. It is essential to give clear details of your needs to ensure that things run smoothly during your journey. As there are many long corridors at Palma airport, it is best to be accurate about how far you can walk.


Disability assistance at Palma Airport

All European airports have a responsibility to provide assistance for passengers with reduced mobility. At Palma airport, virtually all of the assistance services required will be without charge. The airport uses a service to help with assistance called ‘Sin Barreras’, which means without barriers. ‘Sin Barreras’ have several meeting points – these have a sign with a blue ‘i’ alongside a yellow wheelchair symbol above them so that they are fairly easy to spot.

The airport Sin Barreras team will provide the following:

  • Meeting and accompanying the passenger to and from the meeting point
  • Helping with hand luggage
  • Taking a passenger to the check-in desk and providing assistance, if required
  • Accompanying the passenger through the security checkpoint and customs
  • Assisting with boarding and disembarking

How to access the service

The service is available on request. This is done when booking your flight online or with a travel agent and must be a minimum of 48 hours before flight time. Optionally or additionally, call the airport tel: (+34) 91 321 10 00 or email: [email protected]

How assistance works at Palma Airport

On arrival

On arrival at Palma Airport, you will be helped to disembark, get through passport control and collect luggage. You will then be taken to the meeting point of your choice.

At departure

Unfortunately, any friends or relatives who are not flying will not be able to assist passengers beyond the security checkpoint. However, airport staff will be able to assist – all you have to do is go to the closest or prearranged “Sin Barreras” meeting point and notify the staff of your presence.

You will be helped and accompanied through the check-in process, the security checkpoint and to your aeroplane seat. You will also be assisted with your personal needs and luggage.

Once onboard the aircraft, airline staff will usually take over until the destination airport, whereupon airport staff will assist until a set meeting point.

Please note:
Any passenger who wishes to use the passenger assistance service will need to arrive at the airport with enough time; a minimum of two hours before the flight time.

Meeting points at Palma Airport

Sin Barreras sign at Palma de Mallorca Airport Meeting point locations:

1. The main terminal building, Floor 2 Departures (Check-in) on the forecourt/sidewalk outside.

2. The main terminal building, Floor 2 Departures (Check-in) Departures hall inside.

3. The main terminal building, Floor 2 Departures (Check-in) Departures hall inside, far side.

4. The main terminal Building, Ground Floor Arrivals forecourt/sidewalk just outside.

5. Parking Building, Floor 4 Just by the connecting walkway to the Terminal Building Departures.

6. By the Parking Building, ground floor on the forecourt/sidewalk outside. By the bus stop, under the walkway.

Go at the time scheduled. If no time is scheduled, be there at least 2 hours before the flight time. Once there, let the staff know you have arrived, using the intercom at the meeting point.


 

The process of air travel with reduced mobility

Booking

With most airline’s online booking forms, you will need to select your flights and fill in the requested details. During the booking process and before you finalise your booking, you will find a section or button called something along the lines of “passenger assistance/special needs/ access requirements”. This will then open a new section where you can give details of your requirements. This is usually done by ticking boxes describing the assistance needed.

Wheelchair users

The airlines are required to transport your mobility equipment without charge. For this to happen, you must inform the airline when you book, especially if you have a scooter or powered wheelchair with batteries. Due to safety regulations, passengers won’t be allowed to take certain types of mobility equipment on board, but this will be stored with luggage in the hold. Batteries also are required to be stored in the hold for security.

However, a folding wheelchair may be stored, depending on space, in the passenger cabin. If you need to use a wheelchair on board it has to be requested when booking. Walking sticks and crutches will likely be taken off passengers for the duration of the flight and stored.

Boarding the Aircraft

Usually, you will stay in your own wheelchair up until you are about to enter the aircraft. From this point, passengers will be transferred to an onboard chair or boarding chair. You may have to change wheelchairs at the check-in desk or at one of the meeting points at Palma airport. This is if your wheelchair needs to be stored in the aircraft hold, which usually applies to battery-powered vehicles. The wheelchair swapping point can also vary, depending on the boarding method and facilities available for the particular gate at Palma airport.

If the boarding gate is connected to the aircraft with an air-bridge you will most likely stay in your wheelchair until the aircraft door. Sometimes at Palma airport the aircraft parks away from the departing module. Passengers will either be directed to use a bus or a walkway to get to the aeroplane. There will be a set of stairs or a mobile lift for passengers with reduced mobility. In this instance, wheelchair users will be transferred onto a boarding wheelchair either at the boarding gate, at the vehicle waiting to take them to the aeroplane, or on the ground outside the aircraft.

Toilets on board aircrafts

Unfortunately, aeroplane toilets are often a challenge and even unusable for some passengers with a disability. If you are able to use the onboard toilets, then the cabin crew can offer some help to push the onboard wheelchair. However, cabin crew are not permitted to assist with the use of the toilet or to help lift passengers. The onboard toilet compartment is very small, and the onboard wheelchair can only be taken up to the toilet door as it won’t fit inside. There are however rails/grab handles in all the onboard toilets. The doors open outwards which helps the transition from wheelchair to grab handle inside the toilet compartment.

If the lack of access to a toilet for a long journey is a cause for concern there are a range of continence solutions. You would need to discuss this ahead of time with your local health practitioner. Another option is a travelling companion, who will be able to assist in the use of the onboard toilets.

Seats

The airline will in most cases select an appropriate seat without charge, depending on your required assistance. The selected seats will be chosen near the toilets and next to any passengers travelling with you. The seat selected will have armrests that lift out of the way which aids easy access.

Travelling companion

Travelling companions are required to be physically capable of assisting in an emergency and to be over 16 years old. You may be undecided about travelling with a companion to assist you on the flight. You may need to think about the following to help you decide. Are you able to

  • Fasten and unfasten the seat belt yourself
  • In a potential emergency would you be able to –
  • Use the oxygen masks
  • Take the lifejacket from under the seat and put it on
  • Exit the aircraft by any means possible

If you have decided you need a travelling companion, you should plan in advance to have someone travelling with you. If you are not able to do the activities above without assistance you will be travelling at your own risk.


Onward travel from Palma Airport

Once you have arrived at Palma Airport, you may require transport to get you to your holiday resort – here are a few options.

Adapeted vehicles car hire at Palma Airport

Despite the abundance of car hire companies on the island, the rental of adapted vehicles in Mallorca is still in its infancy. Two providers are listed below.

Alicante Region Transfers – wheelchair accessible vehicles

This company is based on the Spanish mainland and has a wheelchair accessible van for hire with lowered floor, wheelchair restraint system and ramp access. The vehicle is equipped to carry one passenger in a wheelchair + four further passengers. As the company only have one vehicle for hire on the Balearic Islands, it is advisable to book well in advance. The driver must have a minimum age of 21 and a credit card is required for the booking.

To request information or make a booking telephone: +34 670 368 849 or e-mail: [email protected]

For further information, you can view the company’s website in English: http://www.alicanteregiontransfers.com/wheelchair-accessible-car-hire-ibiza-mallorca/

Rent A Car Kurt – vehicles with hand controls

This company has vehicles with hand controls for hire. They have offices and pick-up/ drop-off locations at Palma airport and Porto Cristo.

For more information and to take a look at one of the vehicles provided, you can view the company’s website: http://www.rentacarkurt.com/index.php/en/

Contact details for enquiries and bookings: e-mail [email protected], telephone: +34 971 82 10 85 or fax: +34 971 82 08 53

 

Public transport

The buses in Palma (EMT – Empresa Municipal de Transports Urban de Palma de Mallorca), as well as the inter-urban buses (TIB – Transport de les Illes Balears), are set up for people with disabilities and are wheelchair accessible.

For information about wheelchair accessible taxis, please view our taxi page.


Special Service Request (SSR) Codes

These codes are used internationally by airports and airlines and can be helpful in informing the airport of what kind and what level of assistance is needed.

PRMPassenger with reduced mobility
WCHCPassengers are not self-sufficient and are entirely immobile
They require help to their seats and complete personal assistance
When the flight time is longer than three hours they need a travel companion
They need help in the terminal between arrival and departure points
WCHSPassengers who are self-sufficient once on the aeroplane
They need help from the terminal to the aircraft and boarding
They need help in the terminal between arrival and departure points
WCHRPassengers who can boardwalk up steps and move freely by themselves on the aeroplane
They need help getting from the terminal to the aeroplane
They need help in the terminal between arrival and departure points
BLNDVisual disabilities
DEAFDeaf passengers
DEAF/BLINDBlind and deaf person who can only move about with the aid of an accompanying person
DPNAPassengers with an intellectual or developmental disability
WCMPManual wheelchair transported by passenger
WCBDDry Cell Battery Wheelchair transported by passenger which may need (dis)assembly
WCBWWet Cell Battery wheelchair transported by passenger which may need (dis) assembly

Further information

If you wish to hire mobility equipment or other daily living aids while on holiday, please see our page Mobility aids Mallorca.

For information on wheelchair-accessible sightseeing in Palma de Mallorca, please see our Palma City page.

Other resources

The Queen Elizabeth Foundation in partnership with the UK Civil Aviation Authority has produced a video guide about air travel in a wheelchair, which covers everything, from the preparation and planning needed before the flight, procedures at the airport, boarding the aircraft, what to consider during the flight and disembarking.

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