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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 the assistance you require, you should be able to overcome the challenges air travel might pose for you.

You may usually be independent but travelling by air may mean you need a little help. If you have walking difficulties for example, you may be better to use an airport transporter or wheelchair. If you let your airline know, this can be arranged.

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 basically 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 with a minimum 48 hours before flight time.

Optionally or additionally, call the airport tel: 902 404 704 / (+34) 91 321 10 00 or send a request via their website at www.aena.es

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 on board 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 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


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 similar to – 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 PRM. 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 traveling companion who will be able to assist in the use of the onboard toilets.


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. If you can do the following activities on your own it may help you decide.

  • Use the seat belts yourself
  • In a potential emergency be able to –
  • Use the oxygen masks
  • Take the lifejacket from under the seat and put it on
  • Exit the aircraft by any means in an emergency

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 may be disappointed and will be travelling at your own risk.


European airports and ‘Sin Barreras’ use abbreviations for various disabilities.

PRM Passenger with reduced mobility
WCHC Passengers 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
WCHS Passengers 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
WCHR Passengers 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
BLND Visual disabilities
DEAF Deaf passengers
DEAF/BLIND Blind and deaf person who can only move about with the aid of an accompanying person
DPNA Passengers with an intellectual or developmental disability
WCMP Manual wheelchair transported by passenger
WCBD Dry Cell Battery Wheelchair transported by passenger which may need (dis)assembly
WCBW Wet Cell Battery wheelchair transported by passenger which may need (dis) assembly



One Response to Disability Assistance

  • Tracey says:

    My brother will be travelling to Palma in April next year, he doesn’t have mobility problems but he suffers with extreme anxiety and will need help to get him through security and to find his gate when he is returning back home to Manchester, will he get any help with this as he is travelling on his own?

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