Travelling with disabilities
Travellers with visual, hearing, mobility or other disabilities should be aware that many other countries do not have accessibility standards comparable to those in Canada. Many countries do not have facilities to provide access to people in wheelchairs or provide services for those with hearing, visual, or other requirements.
For this reason, you should research the services available for travellers with disabilities in your destination country by contacting its government office in Canada. You should also check the website of the airport at your destination to familiarize yourself with its services for travellers with disabilities.
Planning your flight
- When you are booking your flight, make sure the airline is aware of your needs so that it will have time to provide the requested assistance to help ensure your safety and comfort.
- Make advance arrangements with your airline to transport your battery-operated wheelchair or mobility aids.
- Contact your airline or travel agent in advance to determine the airline’s policy on passengers travelling with service animals.
- Ask your doctor to determine if it is safe for you to go through the airport security metal detector or be hand-wanded. You may request a physical search.
- To facilitate screening, pack all medication in your carry-on baggage with clearly identified labels bearing your name. Prescription medication is exempted from the liquid restrictions, but must be presented to the screening officer separately from your carry-on baggage.
- Contact your airline in advance if you need help to go through the pre-board screening checkpoint. The person assisting you will need a gate pass or authorization from the airline’s check-in counter and must undergo the same security screening as the other passengers.
- Please advise the air carrier check-in staff when your boarding pass is issued if you are unable to lift your carry-on baggage. For health and safety reasons, air carrier personnel familiar with baggage handling should provide you with any assistance necessary.
Airport security screening
- Always bring documentation that supports your medical condition.
- Use the Family/Special Needs security line. Screening officers at these lines are trained to offer additional assistance.
- Let the screening officer know about any mobility, vision, hearing, speech, medical, or other needs and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from your air carrier with mobility aids and carry-on items as you proceed through the security checkpoint.
- For most passengers with special needs, the following options for pre-board screening are available:
- bypass the metal detector and be screened with a hand-held metal detector or full body scanner
- undergo a physical search
- If you have a disability, condition or implant (like a pacemaker, insulin pump) that you would like to remain private and confidential, please ask the security officer to be discreet. Private search rooms are available if a physical search is required.
- Screening officers will visually inspect your wheelchair or scooter and could perform explosive trace detection samples of the cushion. These inspections can be conducted while you remain seated if you are unable to get out of your wheelchair or scooter.
- Take advantage of priority boarding services.
Additional information and resources
The Government of Canada’s Access to Travel website provides information on transportation between Canadian cities by air, rail, ferry and intercity bus, local transportation, the accessibility of airport terminals, provincial tourism and service standards. The website also features an online tool entitled Tips for Travellers with Disabilities that provides trip-planning information and informs travellers with disabilities of appropriate questions to ask carriers that are relevant to their needs.
The Canadian Transportation Agency works to ensure that federally regulated (air, rail, marine and interprovincial bus) transportation services and facilities in Canada are accessible to persons with disabilities. The Agency provides publications and checklists to help you plan travel that meets accessibility requirements. If you run into problems while in transit and cannot resolve them directly with your transportation service provider, the Agency can help you resolve a wide range of transportation disputes. The Agency’s Accessible Transportation website includes information on the carriage of mobility aids on planes, trains and ferries, FAQs on accessible transportation, an email newsletter for persons with disabilities, a guide to accessible travel entitled, Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Persons with Disabilities, and a list of accessible transportation links.
If you hold a valid accessible parking permit in Canada you may take your permit with you for use in any member country of the International Transport Forum (ITF). However, it is recommended that you verify with the local authorities to determine whether you are entitled to use it there. For more information, consult the ITF website.. Parking permits for Canadians with disabilities are rarely recognized in non-ITF countries.
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