Airlines operating flights departing from the United Kingdom must adhere to new disability information requirements set out by the CAA.
“When we reviewed airlines’ and airports’ websites, we found this was not always easy to find and often unclear and lacking in detail,” The CAA’s Director of Regulatory Policy, Iain Osborne said.
Last August, the CAA issued notice to 50 major airlines operating flights from the UK to publish on their websites twelve pieces of information essential to disabled people. The Civil Aviation Authority gave airlines until the end of 2014 to bring their website to compliance.
In accordance with section 85 of the Civil Aviation Act 2012 (the Act) airlines are required to provide ten pieces of information in the following form and manner.
I. Information is to be published electronically on the airline’s website page available to consumers booking flight tickets in the UK
II. Information should be on a single webpage one click away from the home page of the airport website or on webpages directly accessible from a single landing webpage one click away from the home page.
III. The title for hyperlinks to this information should be “Special Assistance” or similar and may include a relevant image, for instance the International Symbol of Access consisting of a blue square overlaid in white with a pictogram of a person using a wheelchair.
IV. Information should be presented in a clear and easy to understand way and accessible for passengers with impairments such as blindness or low vision, deafness or hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, restricted movement, photo-sensitivity or any combinations of these.
V. The website design should take into consideration existing international guidelines on website accessibility.
It is important to note that the above requirements are in parallel to those set by the United States Department of Transportation on airline’s website accessibility.
Within November 2015, airlines operating flights to the United States airlines must make sure that the web pages providing key travel information and services meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standard. Within November 2016, airlines must ensure that all other pages of their websites meet this standard.
Within November 2015, airlines websites must have a request form available for passengers with disabilities to request services including, but not limited to, wheelchair assistance, seating accommodations, escort assistance for a visually impaired passenger, and on-board stowage of an assistive device.
Within the end of December 2014, Airlines must publish the following information in adherence to the UK Civil Aviation Authority content guidelines.
Information on safety restrictions
This should specify the safety rules of the airline which may prevent the airline from accepting a reservation from a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility (PRM) or any restrictions due to the size of the aircraft including its doors which makes carriage of any person or their equipment (for example, a wheelchair) physically impossible.
Information on how to obtain assistance
This information should include, as a minimum:
a) Instructions on how PRMs can book assistance;
b) Methods by which PRMs can book assistance (e.g. as part of the booking process, by email, phone, web form, etc, and any associated cost, for example calling a special assistance phone line);
c) Whether, once the PRM has pre-notified, you will confirm this in writing (e.g. by email, letter, etc) to the PRM;
d) The stipulated time before their flight that the PRM should arrive at the airport; and
e) Relevant telephone and e-mail contacts for requesting assistance.
Information on seating on-board
This information should include, as a minimum, what type of seating is generally available (for example, extra leg / space or movable armrests) as well as instructions for how a PRM can pre-book a suitable seat on board or, if this option is not available, how the airline ensures that suitable seats are allocated to PRMs. It should also cover the availability of, and instructions for, pre-booking specialist seating devices such as harnesses, MERU chairs etc.
Information on fitness to fly
This information should include, as a minimum, the circumstances under which the airline will normally require medical clearance for travel. This information should also cover instructions for passengers on obtaining clearance.
Information on when a carer will be required
This information should include, as a minimum, the circumstances under which the airline will require that the PRM travels with a carer. This information should also include special arrangements in relation to carers (e.g. where they will be seated in relation to the PRM, whether there is a discount fare available, etc).
Information on service and guide dogs
This information should include, as a minimum, whether the airline accepts assistance dogs and, if so, for which routes. It should also cover the arrangements for travelling with an assistance dog and any costs involved (for example, if the dog requires an additional seat).
Information on oxygen
This should include, as a minimum, the airline’s policy on the carriage of oxygen or any other breathing apparatus by passengers, and any restrictions (e.g. security) to carriage on particular routes. It should also include whether the airline will itself provide oxygen, the volume of oxygen available in flight and the amount of any charge for this service.
Information on how to get to and from the lavatory
This should specify the arrangements generally available for assisting PRMs to and from the toilet, including whether a wheelchair is available on-board and, where relevant, the instructions for pre-booking the on-board wheelchair.
Information on toilets on board
This should include, as a minimum, whether any toilets are accessible to onboard wheelchairs or have any other features to assist PRMs.
Compensation for mobility equipment
This should state the airline’s policy on compensation for damage to mobility aids (i.e. whether the Montreal Convention limits apply) and the process which passengers should follow to make a claim.
Information on how to complain
This should include the arrangements in place for PRMs to complain to the airline about the assistance provided on their journey, including contact details.
Information on PRM helpline
This should provide the telephone number and opening hours of the airline’s helpline for enquiries from PRMs.
Reduced Mobility Rights provide bespoke consulting services to airlines requiring professional help crafting or editing their special assistance web pages. Please use the contact form to request additional information or a quote.