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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Air travel if you are deaf or hearing impaired

When you travel by air, tell your airline, travel agent or tour operator if you'll need extra assistance at the airport or on the plane. You should request this at least 48 hours before you fly, so that there is time to organise the support you need.

At the airport

If you need assistance, you can arrange for someone to help you through check-in, baggage check and customs controls. You can also ask a member of staff to inform you personally at the time of the boarding announcement.

Most public address systems in airports should have induction loop facilities, which amplify sound for people with a ‘T’ switch on their hearing aids. Text phones and public telephones with amplification and induction loops should also be available. Staff at the airport information desk should be able to tell you where to find these.

On the plane

It’s a good idea to explain your impairment to the cabin crew. They can keep you informed of any important announcements, like delays or emergency landings.

Safety information videos should be subtitled, and you may also be able to pick up public announcements through an induction loop on the plane.

Advice about air travel

Several organisations and charities give useful advice about air travel for deaf and hearing impaired people.

Action on Hearing Loss has produced a fact sheet entitled 'Flying and the ear'. This contains useful information about the effect of air travel on your ears.

Assistance dogs and air travel

If you want to take your assistance dog on the plane with you, always tell the airline about this in advance. The airline can ask the owner to produce proof that the dog has been trained by a recognised organisation. In the UK these organisations are members of Assistance Dogs UK.

You should also check out the airline’s policy on carrying assistance dogs. Assistance dogs should be allowed to travel free of charge, in the passenger cabin with you.

When travelling with an assistance dog, you should carry identification for yourself and the dog. You'll need a car safety harness suitable for securing the dog at take-off and landing and at any time that the airline requires it.

Pet Travel Scheme

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) could help you avoid long quarantine periods for your dog when you return to the UK from an international trip.

Not all airlines operate the scheme so it is best to check with them beforehand. Pets travelling on airlines under the scheme are normally carried in the hold of the plane. There is an exemption that allows assistance dogs to travel in the cabin with their owners.

There is more information about the scheme in the travel and transport section of this website.

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