Travelling by air – proof of disability

Published Date
16/04/2013

My husband and I have recently booked a holiday to Tunisia, using a high street travel agent.  I prefer to research accessibility of hotels myself and book with whoever can offer the most competitive price – some people prefer to pay slightly more and go though a specialist operator for peace of mind, but after working in the accessible travel industry for 8 years I trust my own judgement.

Once we’d confirmed that there was an adapted room available and that it would be guaranteed, we got around to the aircraft assistance requirements.  I requested a seat with extra leg room, near to the toilets – only to be told that unless I wanted to pay an extra charge, I would have to provide medical proof that this was required because of my disability.

Not exactly happy about this but still wanting to keep costs down, I contacted my GP surgery and requested a letter to send to the travel agency.   I was then told that there would be a charge for the letter!  I understand that this is standard procedure in an NHS surgery, but the letter consisted of one sentence.  After a heated discussion with the practice manager it was agreed that there would not be a charge, and finally all of the arrangements are in place so we can now look forward to our holiday.

Has anyone else experienced this or similar?  In 10 years of travelling independantly I’ve never been asked to do this, and I think it’s unfair that a person with access requirements will one way or another end up paying a premium for these to be met – either an exta charge for the seat or payment for the medical letter.  Particularly as we know from the APPG meeting about air travel, there is no guarantee that these needs will be met when travel takes place!

I’m attending a meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority next week and will be raising this issue, so would love to hear from others in the meantime.

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