New regulations protect disabled travellers

Brussels July 26, 2007

Air travel will get easier for disabled passengers in the European Union with a passing of a new regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006) to protect their rights. It is now categorically illegal to deny an elderly or disabled passenger to fly anywhere within the EU. Next year the law will expand to ensure passengers with reduced mobility not be charged for extra assistance such as wheelchairs or help with guide dogs, which will be allowed on flights. “These rules will put an end to discrimination and give disabled and elderly passengers the help they need,” EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said in a statement.

The overall aim of the regulation is to guarantee equal treatment for all passengers, including ‘any person with reduced mobility or sensory impairment, intellectual disability or any other cause of disability, age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers’. The new laws are in response to cases, particularly involving low-cost airlines, in which passengers with disabilities had been refused boarding passes or charged for extra costs involved in helping them board a flight. According to EU figures, 10 percent of the EU' s 490 million citizens are affected by reduced mobility.

Only articles 3 (‘Prevention of refusal of carriage’) and 4 (‘Derogations, special conditions and information’) of the new Regulation enter into force on July 26, 2007. The entire Regulation, which is directly applicable to European airports and airlines, will be totally effective in one year.

FIMITIC was part of the long campaign and is convinced: These are new rights and disabled people need to be informed and encouraged to complain if these rights are violated anywhere in Europe. This will ensure better quality while travelling for all passengers, with and without disabilities.

The text of the Regulation can be downloaded from here (link).