If you’re in need of special assistance when travelling, it shouldn’t stop you from exploring somewhere new. TravelUp have come up with everything you need to know about if you require special assistance at the airport to help make your experience less stressful.

Because you require special assistance, it might be a silly question to think “why is it so important to get travel insurance”, but it will cover you in any negative scenario. Before you do anything else, we encourage you to get travel insurance and contact them to make them aware of your requirement for special assistance.

Special assistance is available at most airports, with services varying from place to place. Most services can be booked ahead, either with the airport or airline, and it’s well worth making sure you do so, to make your trip through the airport easier.

If you or someone you’re travelling with has their own mobility equipment, like wheelchairs or mobility scooters, you can take these all the way to the departure gate. Most airports will have wheelchairs you can use if you don’t want to bring your own. It’s normally required that the airline is informed of this, so they know they’ll be carrying your mobility scooter or wheelchair in flight so please let the airline know at the time of booking if this is the case so they can prepare in advance.

Some airports may require you to be escorted an alternative route if using mobility equipment, due to stairs or other obstructions. Some airports also have walking distances charts, showing how far you’ll need to walk to certain gates, so you can judge what kind of mobility assistance you’ll need. This dependent on which airports you are travelling out of, be sure to look prior to your departure.

To guarantee assistance, most airports will ask you to book services with them or your airline. This can be done from when your flight is booked up to 72 hours in advance of flying (some airports have different time restrictions, so it’s best to book as soon as possible.) Booking assistance and services ahead means you’re guaranteed the help you need – you may be able to get support without booking, but those in need with a booking will be prioritised.

Many airports will also provide assistance to those with hidden disabilities, such as providing induction loops in certain areas for those who are hard of hearing, and having all signage in black text on yellow backgrounds for maximum visibility for partially sighted people. Help sheets are also provided for people travelling with disabilities like dementia, autism and ADHD, as airports can be especially stressful.

To learn more about special assistance and what to do when arriving at the airport, click here for a detailed article from the Civil Aviation Authority.