• I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to plan your trip down to every detail. In order to execute a hassle free trip you need to Plan, Plan, Plan.  Do not leave anything to chance.
  • Read anything you can about travelling with a special need: accessibility guide books, disabled travel articles or publications. Read about
    people’s personal experiences travelling with disabilities.
  • Be informed


Booking Flight

  • Explain your needs
    • When you are making your reservation, make sure you explain your needs to the booking agent so that accommodations required can be made directly on your re
      servation.  You should also contact your airline 3 days prior to your flight to ensure your accommodations are in place.  Don’t leave anything to chance.  Double check.
  • Arrange assistance
    • Arrange for an attendant assistance at the airport in advance with the airline.
  • Avoid Connecting Flights
    • Where possible take direct flights.  This will eliminate the transferring between gates at the connecting airport.  The only exception would be extra-long flights, if the flight is too long for you to sit, you may wish to break the flight up into different legs.  Allow enough time between flights to transfer from one flight to the other.  Allow approximately 2 – 2 ½ hours.
  • Seat Selection
    • Try to book an aisle seat so that you can get to the washroom easier.  Avoid the emergency exit because you would be expected to support other passengers in the case of an emergency.
  • Travelling with Oxygen
    • If you are travelling with oxygen, ensure the airline knows this in advance as there are certain restrictions around carrying of oxygen and the number of passengers on the plane with oxygen.


Checking Into Your Flight

  • Check-in right at the 24-hour mark (or the earliest your flight will allow you to check-in) to ensure you have your correct seat selection. If you did not pre-book your seats, booking at this time allows you the best chance of getting your seats right up front.Packing
  • Medications
    • Make sure all medications are placed in your carry-on luggage and you have a doctor’s note for each of the medications and explaining your needs.  You should know the names of each of the medications and what they are for
  • Special needs identification
    • Carry with you a card or letter from your doctor which outlines your special needs and any special requirements during travel.



  • Arrival time
    • Typical arrival time at the airport is 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights. If you have special needs requiring accommodations you should add one hour to these times.  This will allow enough time to arrive and have all your needs met.  It takes time to get through the check-in process and get mobility supports in place to get you to the gate.  It is better to wait around than miss your plane.



  • Ask to use the priority lanes at security
    • The priority lines tend to be much shorter.  The staff in the priority lane are generally trained to support special needs travelers.


At the gate

  • When you arrive at the gate, sit close to the door so you are ready when the pre-board announcement is made. This will allow you to board at your own pace.
  • Let the boarding personnel know that you may require additional time to board.


On the plane

  • Pre-board aircraft.
  • If you are travelling with a wheel-chair you will usually have to transfer to a special aisle chair at the boarding point of the aircraft.
  • Let the flight attendant know of any of your needs when you board.
  • Assistive Devices
    • Let the flight attendant know if you have any assistive devices. They will be able to help you store them safely during flight.
  • Speak with the flight attendant before the plane lands
    • You will be able to get information from the flight attendant about the landing procedures for you and what you will need to know once you land at your destination.



  • Assistive Devices
    • Make sure you have all your assistive devices before you get off the airplane.
  • Deplaning
    • Wait until everyone else gets off the plane, then the flight attendant can support you with getting off the plane.


Travel Agency which specializes in Special Needs

  • Use a special needs travel agency who will help you with all the planning and organization. The agent can make arrangements with the airline to ensure all your needs are met. This will take out all the worry and frustration.