For some passengers with physical or hidden disabilities, flying may be inconvenient, worrying or even painful. The airline industry is committed to ensuring that safe, reliable and dignified air travel is equally accessible to all passengers. Airlines and airports are working with representative groups from the accessibility community to make flying as hassle-free as possible.
Guidance for Airlines
Transport of battery-powered wheelchair and mobility aid guidance
The Battery-Powered Wheelchair and Mobility Aid Guidance (pdf) supports airlines in accepting and transporting battery-powered wheelchairs and mobility aids safely and efficiently. This guidance includes details that passengers need to provide to airlines in order to ensure battery-powered mobility aid can be accepted and loaded onto the aircraft.
Accessible air travel in response to COVID-19
Leveraging on survey data, and developed in consultation with both disability associations and airline members, the IATA Guidance on Accessible Air Travel in Response to COVID-19 (pdf) helps airlines as they welcome passengers with disabilities on board while the industry gets back on its feet.
IATA Positions on Passenger Accessibility
Need for harmonization of disability legislation
We recognize we can and should do more. One area of concern is the proliferation of differing disability legislation across the globe, which creates confusion for passengers with disabilities, difficulties for airlines, and raises potential safety implications. Critically, there is no common definition of a passenger with disabilities or agreement on the minimum service levels they can expect when traveling by air.
IATA advocates for a joint government and industry approach, that meets the needs of passengers with disabilities, while ensuring efficient and safe air transport. In particular, working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), IATA is campaigning with states to closely involve the airline industry in the inclusion of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) into national aviation legislation and policies related to accessible air transport
IATA position on face-covering for passengers with disabilities
Some passengers including those with no autonomy to put/remove a face mask, small children and those with certain medical conditions may not be able to use masks for a lengthy period. Some governments have published regulations on face mask exemption. Find more on the
IATA position paper on face-covering for passengers with disabilities (pdf)
New Mobility Aids Action Group
The first of its kind, a global Action Group was launched in July 2021 to improve the handling of mobility aids for travelers with disabilities, including wheelchairs. The Action Group will involve a full range of stakeholders, including organizations representing travelers with disabilities, airlines, ground service providers, airports and mobility aids manufacturers. More details through the press release: Airlines Launch new Mobility Aids Action Group
Landmark Industry Resolution
During the June 2019 IATA Annual General Meeting, global airline leaders unanimously agreed a resolution calling on governments to adopt IATA’s core principles for accommodating passengers with disabilities. These principles aim to change the focus from disability to accessibility and inclusion by bringing the travel sector together with governments to harmonize regulations and provide the clarity and global consistency that passengers expect.