This article focuses mainly on airplane travels. I was a frequent flyer before my cancer developed to the degree, when flying became complicated. With cancer I avoided airplanes because I was too weak to walk all the way from the check-in desk to the gate. To find out about the help I was entitled to I started to look for information among the community for disabled passengers and passengers with physical handicaps. I needed to find out what kind of help I could expect. I do not fly much, but I do. And when I fly, I have my own wheelchair with me.
With cancer and other physical handicaps, a journey by an airplane requires preparations. It becomes even more complicated if the destination is in another country. I would therefore like to share my experiences.
To think about before you book your airplane ticket:
Do you need assistance at the airport?
What is “assistance”?
According to REGULATION (EC) No 1107/2006 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air, the passenger is entitled to help.
Here are some expamples:
Option 1: (CODE: NWCR) Passenger who requires the use of an airport wheelchair: and to be pushed through the airport terminal to the steps of the aircraft.
Option 2: (CODE: NWCC) Passenger who requires the use of an airport wheelchair: and to be pushed through the airport terminal to the steps of the aircraft and also requires lift on/lift off assistance onto and off the aircraft.
Option 3: (CODE: NWCP) Passenger who requires the use of an airport wheelchair only: but does not require to be pushed by airport staff.
Option 4: (CODE: NWCS) Passenger not travelling in a wheelchair: that requires no assistance through the airport to the aircraft but does require lift on / lift off assistance onto the aircraft.
Option 5: (CODE: WCHR) Passenger travelling in their own wheelchair: that only requires to be pushed through the airport terminal to aircraft steps.
Option 6: (CODE: WCHC) Passenger travelling in their own wheelchair: that requires to be pushed through the airport terminal to aircraft steps and also require lift on/ lift off assistance onto the aircraft.
To start with, you need to decide about the type of assistance you need. You need to book the assistance at the same time you book your airplane ticket. The airline is responsible for the assistance, therefore contact the airline. The airline has to confirm the assistance. Many airlines take only limited number of disabled passengers on board. Therefore book your ticket in a good time. Stage 4 Cancer Forum has a forum where we describe routines for disabled passengers at different airports around the world based on our readers’ personal experiences. You are welcome to add and rate new airports. You can also rate airlines depending on their level of service.
I have attached EU regulation, as well as the UK interpretation and an example of the different options.
EU regulation No 1107/2006, UK rules, Assistance options
For US readers: I found following Site helping travellers with disability.
To think about before you leave home:
Parking at the airport (for disabled travellers)
Do you have a Disabled Parking Permit?
Are you taking your Disabled Parking Permit with you on your journey abroad?
What rules apply to disabled parking in the country you are visiting?
Does your airport provide parking space for disabled travellers? What are the prices and routines?
I always take the permit with me. I have experienced following routines at two different airports. (1) I had to take my Disabled Parking Permit with me inside the airport area where those in charge of parking would copy and register the permit. Afterwards I returned to the car and placed the copy (with the airport’s stamp) in the car window. The price was the same as for everyone else; however the parking spaces for handicapped travellers were just outside the terminal. (2) I would have to register the permit immediately before entering the garage, by calling assistance at the parking´s gate. I showed the permit on the camera and they would register it. This was a large airport. I had two alternatives to park the car. Either using the spaces designated for handicapped travellers, or the regular parking spaces. The price was the same.
Do you travel with medicine containing narcotics?
You may need documents from your M.D. or from your pharmacist stating what kind of medicine and doses you are using. Note that majority of sleeping pills and sedatives contain “narcotics”. Ask your pharmacist to avoid complication. Especially if you travel abroad.
Pacemakers, Port-a Cath, metal and else in your body
Do you need documentation for security check-in or for the purpose of hospitalization at the destination?
Other essentials to pack with me when travelling
Medicines (drugs), and accompanying documents for security personnel
Injections and accompanying documents for security personnel
Colostomy bags and accompanying documents for security personnel
Documents about my port-a-cath implant
and everything else what I would need under normal circumstances.
Have a nice journey and share your experiences with Stage 4 Cancer Forum´s readers!