What is the national and international legislation protecting my rights as a passenger with a disability or reduced mobility?
The legislation protecting your rights as a passenger with a disability or reduced mobility includes:
Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air
Ministerial Decree No 107/T of 24 July 2007 on ‘Designation of the body responsible for the implementation of Regulation 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’
Legislative Decree No 24/2009 of 24 February 2009 on penalties for infringement of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
Can the airline refuse boarding or refuse to accept my booking for a flight on the grounds of my disability or reduced mobility?
An airline or its agent or a tour operator cannot not refuse, on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility:
- to accept a reservation for a flight departing from or arriving at an airport to which Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 applies
- boarding for a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility at such an airport, provided that the person concerned has a valid ticket and reservation
Are there any exceptions to the prohibition on refusing boarding or booking because of my disability?
Booking or boarding may be refused only:
- for safety reasons
- if the size of the aircraft or its doors makes boarding or carriage of disabled passengers or passengers with reduced mobility physically impossible.
Is the airline obliged to inform me about the conditions of carriage applied to disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility?
It is mandatory for the airline, its agent or the tour operator to make available to the public, in accessible formats, the safety rules applied to the carriage of disabled persons and any restrictions on their carriage.
Who should I contact to request assistance because of my disability?
You should request assistance from your airline, agent or tour operator with which you make your booking, at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure time.
Should I communicate my arrival in order to receive the assistance service for disabled persons?
The airline, its agent or the tour operator with which the disabled or reduced mobility passenger has made a reservation must book the service at least 36 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time, informing the managing body of the airport of departure, arrival and transit. The managing body of the airport shall provide the disabled or reduced mobility passenger with all the assistance required.
Where should I go once I arrive at the airport? Are there any assistance desks for disabled or reduced mobility passengers?
The airport managing body must clearly indicate the points of arrival and departure both inside and outside the terminal buildings for disabled and reduced mobility passengers and must make essential airport information available to them.
Is whoever provides assistance to disabled passengers at the airport also required to do so during the flight?
The airport managing body must provide disabled or reduced mobility passengers with all the necessary assistance when they are at the airport until they board the aircraft, while assistance during the flight will be provided by the airline. The airport managing body and the airline must ensure the presence of staff able to meet the needs of disabled persons and provide appropriate training to all staff working at the airport.
In detail, what types of assistance should be provided by the airport managing body to a disabled or reduced mobility passenger?
The airport managing body must provide PRMs, free of charge, with the assistance they need to:
- communicate their arrival at an airport and request assistance at the designated points inside and outside the terminal buildings
- move from a designated point to the check-in desk
- check in and register baggage
- proceed from the check-in desk to the aircraft, completing emigration, customs and security procedures
- board the aircraft, with the aid of lifts, wheelchairs or other necessary specific assistance
- proceed from the aircraft door to their seats
- stow and retrieve baggage on the aircraft
- proceed from their seats to the aircraft door
- disembark from the aircraft, with the aid of lifts, wheelchairs or other necessary specific assistance
- proceed from the aircraft to the baggage hall and retrieve baggage, completing immigration and customs procedures
- proceed from the baggage hall to a designated point
- reach connecting flights when in transit, with assistance on the air and land sides and within and between terminals as needed
- move to the toilet facilities if required
- be assisted at the airport, upon request, by their accompanying person for boarding and disembarking
- receive, subject to advance notice of 48 hours, ground handling of all necessary mobility equipment
- receive ground handling of recognised assistance dogs, where appropriate
- have access to flight information
In addition, the airport managing body must establish and publish quality standards for assistance, with the exception of commercial airports with an annual passenger throughput of less than 150 000.
In detail, what types of assistance should I receive from the airline?
The airline must provide passengers with reduced mobility with the following types of assistance:
- carriage of recognised assistance dogs in the cabin, subject to national regulations
- in addition to medical equipment, transport of up to two pieces of mobility equipment per disabled person or person with reduced mobility, including electric wheelchairs, subject to advance notice of 48 hours and to possible limitations of space on board the aircraft, and subject to the application of relevant legislation concerning dangerous goods
- communication of essential flight information in accessible formats
- the making of all reasonable efforts to arrange seating to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities or reduced mobility on request and subject to safety requirements and availability
- assistance in moving to toilet facilities if required
- where a disabled person or person with reduced mobility is assisted by an accompanying person, the airline will make all reasonable efforts to give such person a seat next to the disabled person or person with reduced mobility.
My type of disability, which does not allow me to walk long distances, is different from that of a visually impaired or blind person. How can I be sure that I will be provided with the appropriate assistance?
Once requested, the service is classified with one of the internationally shared codes identifying the different types of needs.
The identification codes are:
- BLND: Visually impaired or blind persons
- WCHR: Passengers who cannot walk long distances. They can go up and down steps and move around independently
- WCHS: Passengers who cannot walk long distances and cannot go up and down steps. They can move around inside the plane independently
- WCHC: Completely immobile passengers, who are not self-sufficient inside the plane and need assistance at all times
- DEAF: Passengers with hearing disabilities
- DPNA: Passengers with mental or behavioural disabilities
I did not receive the assistance I requested; whom should I contact?
If no assistance or inadequate assistance is received, any complaints must be submitted to:
- the managing body of the airport in the event of lack of or inadequate assistance on the land side
- the airline for booking/purchase issues and lack of assistance on the air side
If the PRM believes that the reply to the complaint is not consistent with the provisions of the Regulation, he/she may then submit a complaint to ENAC, using the online form.
It is possible to send a complaint to ENAC if the disruption occurred:
- at an Italian airport;
- on flights departing from an Italian airport (regardless of the nationality of the operating carrier);
- on flights arriving at an Italian airport if operated by an EU carrier.
Alternatively, complaints can be sent:
- by email to email@example.com
- for flights departing from other EU states and for flights arriving in those states from non-EU countries, complaints can be sent to the corresponding responsible bodies. For the purposes of applying Reg. 1107/2006 Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are treated as equivalent to Member States.
Why should I send my complaint to ENAC?
ENAC is the body responsible in Italy for ensuring that the rights of disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility are respected, and can issue penalties against non-compliant parties. ENAC will investigate complaints and communicate its conclusions to the passenger, who may use them in support of any legal action against the airline, the airport managing body or the tour operator.
Can the airline refuse to carry my assistance dog on board?
Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/06 (Annex 1) allows a disabled passenger or a passenger with reduced mobility to use, throughout the air journey, a recognised assistance dog, in accordance with the applicable national legislation, as also set out in ENAC implementing Circular GEN 02B (in Italian language).
However, the maximum number of assistance dogs that can be carried on board national aircraft is subject to the size and layout of the aircraft cabin. In particular, assistance dogs must be located in pre-established spaces, to minimise disruption of normal operations and not to affect emergency operations. Consequently, assistance dogs may not be allowed on board certain aircraft if one or both of the above requirements are not met.
Therefore, to avoid regrettable problems after purchasing the ticket and close to the departure time, passengers are advised to inform the airline as soon as possible that they need to carry an assistance dog, to enable the airline to check whether this is feasible, in terms of the number of assistance dogs possibly already booked on the same flight and the space available.