Disability assistance

What assistance is available?

We believe our unique British Airways’ service should be accessible to everyone, and we’re committed to making flights as easy as possible for customers travelling with disabilities. We’re continually improving our service, and aim to become the airline of choice for customers with visible and non-visible disabilities.

What we can do to help you

A range of services are available, some of which are the responsibility of the airport operator or other service providers to provide. Once we know your requirements, we'll liaise with them to make arrangements.

Depending on your individual needs and circumstances, we can arrange:

  • Assistance or an escort to and from the aircraft
  • Help with stairs where necessary
  • Transport for wheelchairs and mobility aids

When you reach the aircraft, our cabin crew can help you:

  • Find your seat and familiarise you with your seat and the surrounding area
  • Store and retrieve your hand baggage
  • Move between your seat and the toilets
  • Open any packaging of your on-board meal, identify your food and the layout of the meal tray

Our team will also be able to provide you with essential flight information.

What you’ll need to take care of

During your journey you will need to look after:

  • Personal care during the flight, such as eating and taking medicine
  • Personal care in the toilet
  • The needs of your service dog

You will need to travel with a safety assistant if you need help to do any of the following:

  • Lift yourself, for example in or out of your seat
  • Reach an emergency exit unaided
  • Communicate with the crew on safety matters
  • Unfasten your seat belt
  • Retrieve and fit a life jacket
  • Fit an oxygen mask

How to request assistance

You can request assistance in Manage My Booking after you have booked your flights. Please let us know what type of assistance you need at least 48 hours before your flight departs.

Find out more about how to request assistance.

Contact us

If you have any questions or need further help, please contact us.

Our services

We offer assistance in four areas. When you request assistance with us in Manage My Booking, you’ll be asked to choose the ones you need.

If you can’t find the type or level of service you need, please contact us.

We can accommodate the following maximum dimensions for wheelchairs and mobility aids on flights to and from:

UK and Europe (except to and from London City)

  • Length - 140cm (55.1in)
  • Width - 85cm (33.5in)
  • Height - 106cm (41.7in)

London City (dimensions for upright position)

  • Length - 74cm (29.6in)
  • Width - 94cm (37.6in)
  • Height - 73cm (29.2in)

Rest of the world

  • Length - 140cm (55.1in) 
  • Width - 85cm (33.5in) 
  • Height - 152cm (59.8in)

NOTE:

Your wheelchair or mobility aids must fit within the maximum dimensions for us to be able to accept it for travel.

If your wheelchair weighs more than 250kgs please contact our Accessibility Team so we can arrange to accommodate you.

If your wheelchair exceeds the maximum height due to a headrest, then as long as it can be removed and taken into the aircraft cabin separately, the device can still be accepted.

Assistance levels

Once you've booked your flight, please go to Manage My Booking and let us know what level of mobility assistance you need. You can choose from the three levels below. If you're travelling with your own wheelchair, let us know you're bringing it in Manage My Booking.

Whether you are an independent flyer, travelling with your family or a in group, we would still recommend that you book the appropriate level of assistance below in case your flight departs or arrives away from the terminal building.

Service 1

  • Assistance to and from the aircraft and getting around the airport for all or part of your journey. This will be either by electric buggy or airport wheelchair.

Service 2

  • Assistance to and from the aircraft and getting around the airport for all or part of your journey. This will be either by electric buggy or airport wheelchair.
  • Assistance to ascend or descend stairs to the aircraft door if parked away from the terminal building.

Please note: You may be required to ascend or descend stairs in low level light or inclement weather.

Service 3

  • Full level service to and from the aircraft.
  • Use of a specialist aisle chair and transfer to your seat during boarding and disembarkation along with the use of an on-board aisle chair during the flight to move around the cabin.

Please note: During the flight our cabin crew are unable to assist you onto the on-board aisle chair. If you do not possess enough upper body strength to move between your seat and the chair, then you will need to travel with a safety assistant. This on-board wheelchair service will not be offered by third party airlines who are operating flights on behalf of British Airways. You can find out which airline is operating your flight via Manage My Booking. If this affects you, you can move your flight free of charge to an alternative British Airways-operated service, subject to availability.

 

Once you've completed your request for assistance we will advise on available seating options. If you have any questions, please contact us.

 

Seating

You can reserve your seat for free via Manage My Booking once you have booked your flight and requested the assistance you require. You won’t be able to reserve your seat for free if you have not requested this assistance. If you have any questions, please contact us.

 

Travelling with your own wheelchair 

  • You can choose whether you'd like to give us your wheelchair when you check in, or use it until you reach the departure gate, depending on the airport you’re flying from.
  • To give you plenty of time to board the aircraft ahead of other passengers, please arrive at your departure gate early.
  • We may be able to store one collapsible manual wheelchair in the cabin, depending on available space. This is allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis. Please contact staff at the boarding gate for more information.
  • We have wheelchairs on our aircraft to assist you on board. You'll need to be able to lift yourself from your seat onto the wheelchair, or travel with a safety assistant who can help you do that.
  • If you're checking in your wheelchair, make sure to attach a tag with your contact details to it.

 

Battery-operated wheelchairs, mobility scooters and mobility aids

If you have reduced mobility and want to take your device with you, we need to make sure we store your battery-operated wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid safely in the hold of the aircraft, so we need the following information:

  • Wheelchair/mobility aid type
  • Dimensions (see table below)
  • Tare (un-laden) weight
  • Number of batteries installed
  • Type of battery (see notes for Spillable, Non-Spillable Wet Cell, Dry Cell or Lithium batteries below)
  • Instructions for preventing inadvertent operation (see below)

We'll always try and place your wheelchair or mobility aid in containers to keep them safe. There may be some instances where we might not be able to carry your wheelchair or mobility aid, for example:

  • If we're unable to prevent unintended operation of the electric mobility aid.
  • If the weight exceeds the loading capacity on our smaller aircraft that are operated by our subsidiary BA CityFlyer to and from London City.

 

Batteries (including spare batteries)

There are various battery handling requirements dependent upon what type of battery your wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid has. We have therefore provided some additional guidance on the battery handling requirements.

To prevent inadvertent activation of the device during flight, you will be required to confirm that the power has been disconnected or isolated and the device cannot be inadvertently activated. This can be achieved following the manufacturers instructions.

Please contact us if you require additional information.

Lithium Ion Batteries

If the lithium battery(ies) is securely attached to the wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid, it must remain in the device. The power must be disconnected or isolated so that it cannot be inadvertently activated. This can be achieved following the manufacturers instructions.

  • There is no maximum Watt-hour limit if the lithium battery(ies) remains in the device.

Where a lithium ion battery-operated wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid contains a battery that is not securely attached to the device, the following steps must be taken:

  • The battery must be removed following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner.
  • The removed batteries must be protected from short circuit (e.g. by covering or taping over exposed terminals).
  • In order to protect them from damage, place batteries individually in a protective pouch and take them with you into the cabin.
  • The maximum battery size is 300Wh, or for devices fitted with two batteries, 160Wh each.

You may also take one spare lithium ion battery at a maximum of 300Wh, or two spare batteries at a maximum of 160Wh each carried in accordance with the instructions above.

Dry Cell Batteries (also known as Nickel Cadmium NiCd or Nickel Metal Hydride NiMh batteries)

If the dry cell battery(ies) is securely attached to the device, it must remain in the device. The power must be disconnected or isolated so that it cannot be inadvertently activated. This can be achieved following the manufacturers instructions.

Where a dry cell battery-operated wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid contains a battery that is not securely attached to the device, the following steps must be taken:

  • The battery must be removed following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner.
  • The removed battery must be protected from short circuit (e.g. by covering or taping over exposed terminals).
  • The removed battery must be placed in strong, rigid packaging which must be secured in the cargo hold.

You may also take one spare dry cell battery carried in accordance with the instructions above.

Non-Spillable Wet Batteries (also known as gel, sealed lead acid or absorbed glass mat AGM batteries)

Please note: These types of batteries must meet the requirement of IATA dangerous goods regulations special provision A67. This information will be available from the battery manufacturer or mobility aid supplier.

If the non-spillable battery(ies) is securely attached to the device, it must remain in the device. The power must be disconnected or isolated so that it cannot be inadvertently activated. This can be achieved following the manufacturers instructions.

Where a non-spillable wet battery-operated wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid contains a battery that is not securely attached to the device, the following steps must be taken:

  • The battery must be removed following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner.
  • The removed battery must be protected from short circuit (e.g. by covering or taping over exposed terminals).
  • The removed battery must be placed in strong, rigid packaging which must be secured in the cargo hold.

You may also take one spare non-spillable wet battery carried in accordance with the instructions above.

Spillable Batteries

If the spillable battery(ies) is securely attached to the wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid and the device can be stowed in the aircraft in an upright position, it must remain in the device. The power must be disconnected or isolated so that it cannot be inadvertently activated. This can be achieved following the manufacturers instructions.

Where a spillable battery-operated wheelchair, mobility scooter or mobility aid contains a battery that is not securely attached to the device or it cannot be stowed in the aircraft in an upright position, the following steps must be taken:

  • The battery must be removed following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner.
  • The removed battery must be protected from short circuit (e.g. by covering or taping over exposed terminals).
  • The battery must be packed in strong, rigid, leak-proof packaging which is impervious to battery fluid and surrounded by compatible absorbent material sufficient to absorb the total liquid contents.
  • The packaging must be marked ‘BATTERY WET WITH WHEELCHAIR’ and marked with ‘Corrosive’ (Class 8) and orientation (this way up) labels.

Spare spillable batteries are not permitted.

 

Flight connections 

  • If you'd like to use your wheelchair at the airport you're connecting at, we can arrange to have it delivered from the baggage hold to the aircraft door. Let us know at least 48 hours before your flight departs.
  • Please allow extra time for it to be unloaded and reloaded onto your onward aircraft. If you're using an electric wheelchair, this process will take longer because the battery needs to be reactivated on arrival and then deactivated before loading onto the next aircraft.

 

At your destination

  • If your wheelchair has been stowed in the hold, we'll make every effort to return it to you as close to the aircraft door as possible.
  • If this is not possible, we will make sure there is a wheelchair available to assist you to the baggage reclaim area.

At the airport

If you're travelling on your own, let us know if you want us to arrange an escort to guide you through your departure or arrival airport.

Seating

You can reserve your seat for free via Manage My Booking once you have booked your flight and requested the assistance you require. You won’t be able to reserve your seat for free if you have not requested this assistance. If you have any questions, please contact us.

The Aira app

The Aira app provides access to on-demand, personalised assistance for passengers who are blind or have low vision.

The app, which is available free of charge, connects passengers directly to a trained professional agent to provide guided assistance on demand and for advice on navigating through London Heathrow and London Gatwick. They can help with finding specific locations, including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants.

Please note: Aira has been instructed to advise passengers that they will not be able to use their mobile phones as they proceed through security and immigration. The Aira agent will direct the customer to an assistance agent or passenger ambassador to be escorted or directed through the security and immigration process.

Download the Aria app

On board

If you prefer, cabin crew can provide individual safety briefings before the flight departs.

Travelling with a service dog

We're able to carry a certified service dog free of charge in the cabin of all our flights but we might need to limit the number of dogs we can carry in the cabin. This service cannot be booked online.

More about travelling with a service dog

At the airport

If you're travelling on your own, let us know if you want us to arrange an escort to guide you through the terminal from checking in to the aircraft door.

You're welcome to board the aircraft ahead of other passengers if you prefer. Please contact the staff at the departure gate to find out more.

Seating

You can reserve your seat for free via Manage My Booking once you have booked your flight and requested the assistance you require. You won’t be able to reserve your seat for free if you have not requested this assistance. If you have any questions, please contact us.

On board

The safety information on our on-board screens is displayed with subtitles. If you prefer, we can provide individual safety briefings before the flight departs.

We provide headphones that are compatible with hearing aids switched to the 'T' position. This will increase the volume and improve sound clarity.

More about our in-flight entertainment

At your destination

Let us know if you want us to arrange an escort on your arrival at your destination to guide you through the airport.

Travelling with a service dog

We're able to carry a certified service dog free of charge in the cabin of all our flights but might need to limit the number of dogs we can carry in the cabin. This service cannot be booked online.

More about travelling with a service dog

We understand that having a non-visible disability can often make travelling feel daunting. As an airline we are committed to making your journey as accessible and smooth as possible. The assistance provided at many airports for physical disabilities is also available for our customers with non-visible ones too.

Airport assistance can be booked through us and must be done at least 48 hours prior to your departure. To discuss your specific needs and how we can help please contact us.

At the airport

Airport Assistance can help you through the airport, especially if you are travelling alone or you're unfamiliar with the airport environment.

Many airports across our network also offer quiet routes or quiet spaces that provide a stress-free environment to wait in before your flight. This is particularly useful for our customers with autism or for those who suffer from anxiety. To find out more about these physical spaces we recommend you contact your airport directly.

To book airport assistance please contact us at least 48 hours prior to your departure.

Seating

You can reserve your seat for free via Manage My Booking once you have booked your flight and requested the assistance you require. You won’t be able to reserve your seat for free if you have not requested this assistance. If you have any questions or specific seating requirements, please contact us.

On board

If you prefer, cabin crew can provide individual safety briefings to you before the flight departs.

Sunflower lanyard

The sunflower lanyard is a UK airport authority initiative designed as a subtle way of indicating someone has a non-visible disability and may require some extra assistance. As an airline we have embraced this symbol and are keen to promote the benefits it can bring to our customers.

Lanyards are available at all participating airports and can be collected from Airport Assistance. For our customers travelling from London Heathrow, you can order your lanyard to be sent to you by post before you travel. At the moment the lanyards are a UK initiative, but they are starting to be recognised internationally in some destinations.

We're able to carry a certified service dog free of charge in the cabin of all our flights but might need to limit the number of dogs we can carry in the cabin. This service cannot be booked online.

More about travelling with an assistance dog

Seat supports

Our aircraft can accept a range of seat supports to help during your journey. Check our list of approved seat support systems and the cabins they’re suitable in.

Approved seat support systems

Travelling with deafness or hearing loss

Our signed video explores the British Airways journey, from the booking process to the airport experience, onboard services and in-flight entertainment.

Video made in partnership with Signcode UK.

Onboard safety briefing

Watch our onboard safety briefings, which are available in British Sign Language and American Sign Language.

Videos made in partnership with Signcode UK.

BSL for short haul

ASL for short haul

BSL for long haul

ASL for long haul

Legislation

Within the EU, airport operators are responsible for assisting anyone with a disability during their time at the airport. This includes visible and non-visible disabilities, age or any other cause of disability. In order to offer the appropriate service, we need to provide the airport operator with advance information about your travel requirements so please contact us at least 48 hours before your flight departs.

We are governed by the US Rule for Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability for any flight to or from a US airport. You can view a full copy of this rule by:

  • Asking a member of our staff at any of our airports serving the United States, or
  • Contacting the Aviation Consumer Protection Division (US Department of Transportation) using the below details.

 

Aviation Consumer Protection Division

Address

Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings

Aviation Consumer Protection Division

1200 New Jersey Ave, SE

Washington, DC 20590

United States

Contact details and opening hours

Phone: (202) 366-2220

TTY/Assistive device: (202) 366-0511

Monday to Friday, 08:30-17:00 (EST)

Website

Visit the Aviation Consumer Protection Division website and view PDFs

 

Air Travelers with Disabilities hotline  

Toll-free hotline (only available within the US)

Contact details and opening hours

Phone: 1-800-778-4838

TTY: 1-800-455-9880

Monday to Friday, 09:00-17:00 (EST)

More information about the Air Travelers with Disabilities hotline

Partnerships

At British Airways we believe our unique service should be accessible to all and commit to making your journey as easy as possible. We are therefore proud to be the first airline to support ‘it’s everyone’s journey’, a new campaign from the Department for Transport to make transport more inclusive and help disabled people travel with confidence.

The campaign aims to show how collectively we can make a difference and create a more supportive travel environment.

Visit the campaign page.