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Transport if you are disabled

Below is information about what support is available when using different forms of transport if you are disabled.

You can give National Rail train companies advance notice if you think you’ll need any help from staff.

You can also check if a station has accessible facilities.

Wheelchairs on trains

On mainline (intercity, suburban and cross-country) trains there’s space for your wheelchair. Put your chair in this space and use the brakes (or switch your wheelchair’s power off) when the train’s moving.

How to get help

All licensed train companies must be able to tell you:

  • what services and facilities are available
  • how to get assistance - including when there are disruptions

This is called an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP). You can get a copy of an ATP from the train company.

Disabled person’s railcard

If you’re eligible you can get up to a third off rail tickets by applying for a disabled person’s railcard. You must provide evidence of a relevant disability.

Tell your airline at least 48 hours before departure if you’ll need help.

Airlines and airports have different facilities for disabled people. Find out from your airport or airline if they have the facilities you need, for example a toilet with disabled access.

Help at the airport

If you have a sensory, physical or learning disability which affects your mobility when using transport, at airports in the UK and EU you have the right to:

  • help at specific arrival points, such as at terminal entrances, at transport interchanges and in car parks
  • help to reach check-in
  • help with registration at check-in
  • help with moving through the airport if you need it, including to toilets
  • help to board the plane

You’ll also have the right to help because of your age or a temporary illness or injury - for example if you’ve broken your leg and it’s in a cast.

You can travel with up to 2 items of mobility equipment free of charge if you’re disabled. This will not count as part of your baggage allowance.

Help on the plane

If you have a sensory, physical or learning disability which affects your mobility on a flight, in the UK and EU you have the right to:

  • get information about your flight in a way you understand it
  • help to find a seat that is suited to your needs
  • help to move around the plane, including to toilets

Taking your wheelchair on the plane

You cannot take your own wheelchair into the passenger cabin of a plane - it will be stored in the hold. Speak to your airline to find out what help they’ll provide when boarding.

Tell your airline, travel agent or tour operator as soon as possible if you’re taking on a battery-powered wheelchair or mobility aid.

Travelling with a companion

You must travel with a companion if you’re not self reliant, for example if you need help with feeding, breathing, using medication or using the toilet.

The airline you’re flying with will do their best to make sure you sit next to each other, so long as you tell them at least 48 hours before departure.

Travelling with an assistance dog

You have the right to travel with your assistance dog. You’ll need to follow the rules on pet travel.

Contact the DVLA to find out what you need to do if you’re driving and you have a medical condition or disability, for example learning to drive and getting insured.

You may be able to get a Blue Badge so you can park closer to where you want to go.

The Motability Scheme
The Motability Scheme can help you with leasing a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.

Buses and coaches
You can get a bus pass for free travel if you’re disabled. Passes from councils in England can be used anywhere in England:

  • at any time on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday
  • from 9:30am to 11pm on any other day

For travel outside of these times, contact the relevant council.

Help getting on and off

The law says bus and coach drivers must give reasonable assistance to disabled people, for example by helping them get on and off the bus or coach. This does not mean physically lifting passengers or heavy mobility equipment.

If you need help to get on and off a coach, you should ask for this when you book your ticket.

Wheelchair access

In some areas (mainly larger cities), licensed taxis have to be wheelchair accessible.

To find out if there are accessible taxis near you, contact the taxi licensing office at your local council.

Assistance dogs

If you travel with an assistance dog they must be allowed into the taxi or minicab with you, unless the driver has an exemption certificate. This can be issued if they’ve got a medical condition made worse by contact with dogs.

A driver with an exemption certificate will have a ‘Notice of Exemption’ notice on their vehicle windscreen.

It’s illegal to be charged extra to travel in a taxi or minicab with an assistance dog. Otherwise the driver could be fined up to £1,000.

The following types of dog can be taken with you in taxis or minicabs:

  • guide dogs
  • hearing dogs
  • assistance dogs trained by Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs or Canine Partners

Travelling with your dog
Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have been told how to identify assistance dogs.

Your assistance dog should wear its harness or identification jacket when you are travelling with it. If an identification card was issued for the dog, this should also be carried.

Dogs should remain on the floor and under control at all times. If your dog causes any damage to the vehicle, the driver could ask you to pay for it.

You can get help if you’re disabled and travelling on any of the following:

  • a cruise ship that’s leaving from a port within the UK
  • a ferry that’s leaving from or going to a port within the UK
  • a local ferry service, for example by river bus

If you need to make specific arrangements for your journey (for example if you have certain accommodation or seating requirements), you should tell the cruise line, ferry service, travel agent or tour operator at least 48 hours before departure.

Travelling with a carer

You should let the cruise line or ferry service know if you need to travel with a carer. On a ferry, your carer might be able to travel for free.

Help getting on and off

Tell the cruise line or ferry service at least 48 hours before departure if you need help getting on and off the ship.

Shopmobility lends wheelchairs and powered scooters to people who are disabled so they can shop or visit leisure facilities in a town, city or shopping centre.

Last updated: 05/10/2020

Useful links Disable travel advice

Disabled Travel Advice

Travel advice