Airline Travel With a Disability

Most domestic airlines in Australia can accommodate customers with disabilities or special needs. Persons with physical disabilities (including temporary disabilities due to an injury such as a work injury or car accident injury) wanting to travel by air should contact the airline they wish to fly with and discuss how their needs can be met prior to or at the time of booking. 

Disabled travellers should provide as much information as possible to the airline about their condition so that the airline can best accommodate their needs.

Note, however, that on some domestic aircraft:

  • wheelchair accessible toilets are not available
  • storage of wheelchairs or other mobility aids in the cabin is not possible
  • there is no room for onboard wheelchairs
  • there is a limit on the number of wheelchairs that can be carried per flight

Qantas

Qantas offers a range of assistance to passengers with reduced mobility and other specific needs including provision for:

  • reduced fares for travel carers on domestic flights
  • stretchers, oxygen and other medical equipment and devices
  • service, guide or hearing dogs; and
  • assistance for vision or hearing impaired passengers.

A helpful customer checklist is provided to assist passengers requiring a mobility aid such as a wheelchair.


Flights may be booked for a passenger who requires special assistance via the Qantas website, telephone or a travel agent.

Jetstar

Jetstar can accommodate independent travellers who:

  • require mobility and wheelchair assistance and restraints
  • are vision and hearing impaired
  • are travelling with service, guide or hearing dogs; and
  • require oxygen, or other medical equipment onboard.


If a passenger is unable to attend to the following tasks independently, they must travel with an accompanying passenger:

  • use the toilet on the aircraft and on the ground
  • deal with in-flight emergencies
  • transport their own carry-on baggage
  • medicate themselves and conduct necessary medical procedures
  • eat and drink
  • complete immigration documentation
  • board and disembark; and
  • assemble and disassemble their own wheelchair.

Virgin Australia

Virgin will assist passengers who require:

  • service, guide or hearing dogs,
  • mobility assistance
  • assistance due to hearing or vision impairment; and
  • medical aids, equipment or oxygen onboard (may require medical clearance).


Wheelchairs and mobility aids cannot be taken into the aircraft cabin, however, assistance will be provided transferring from your wheelchair to an airport wheelchair and then to your aircraft seat.

A travel companion is required for guests who are unable to independently:

  • use bathroom facilities
  • transfer from their wheelchair to aircraft seat if they are 130kg or heavier
  • administer their own medication; or
  • consume meals and drinks.


Virgin offer a medical companion service for passengers who cannot travel independently at an additional cost. A medical companion is provided to ensure the appropriate level of care and assistance before, during and after the flight, ranging from help with transportation and mobilisation through to intensive paramedic or doctor care for the entire journey.   

Tiger

Tiger airlines can accommodate passengers with:

  • vision or hearing impairment
  • a service, guide or hearing dog
  • impaired mobility
  • medical conditions requiring medication, injections or use of medical equipment


Tiger can provide assistance with check-in, boarding and disembarking, transferring between wheelchairs and aircraft seats, individual safety briefings onboard, opening meal packaging onboard. However, it does not provide kerbside assistance to and from terminal buildings and staff cannot lift you out of your wheelchair if you are unable to do so to transfer to another chair. 

Bookings for passengers with disabilities may be made through the Tiger Air website or a travel agent. Passengers who require additional assistance at the airport or onboard the flight must contact the Tiger Call Centre at the time of booking and at least 5 days prior to travel to ensure that appropriate assistance can be provided.

Tips for international travel

Travel insurance


The travel insurance policy that you choose should be sufficient to cover all your medical expenses that you may incur in the countries you intend to visit. Many travel insurance policies do not cover medical expenses associated with pre-existing injuries so you may have to pay extra for such coverage if it is available.

Organising transfers

  • Be sure to advise the airline of any special assistance you require at the time of booking.
  • Where possible, book direct flights so that you don’t need additional assistance with stopovers.
  • Ensure the form of transport you wish to use, such as a bus, train or taxi can accommodate your needs and that any mobility aids can be carried onboard.
  • If transfers are necessary between different legs of your route, ensure you book departures at times which allow you plenty of time.

Travelling with mobility aids

  • Arrange accommodation that will meet your specific needs before leaving.
  • Ensure you provide as much information as possible about your condition and requirements.
  • Ensure you have the correct voltage adaptors for the country that you are travelling to, so that you can charge any medical devices or mobility aid batteries.
  • Have your mobility aid serviced before travelling to ensure it is in top condition.

Medical treatment abroad 

  • If you are travelling with medication or a guide dog, be sure to check the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting first so that you can meet any requirements.
  • Request a supply of your medication that will cover the duration of your travels as well as any emergencies together with a letter explaining why you need these medications to show foreign officials.

Rights for disabled people in public places


Occasionally people with a disability may find that they cannot enter a particular establishment or public place or they are otherwise unfairly prejudiced due to their disabilities.  If you are precluded from entering a certain place due to your disability it may constitute discrimination. 

Discrimination can occur when a rule, law or policy exists at an establishment which applies equally to all people but has an unfair effect on disabled persons.  For example, indirect discrimination may occur if a public establishment is only accessible by a flight of stairs because immobile persons may be physically able to enter the premises.   

Disabled persons have the right to be treated in such a way that they are able to access accommodation, employment, services and public places to the same extent as other community members.

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Last update on:
July 10, 2020
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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