Air Travel with a Disability


By Lillian W. (B.C.)


Travelling can be a rewarding experience whether exploring new places in our province, our country; or experiencing other cultures and countries.


Although I had a great desire to travel, I also had a great deal of anxiety about how I would manage. On some of my travels I was alone, and it frightened me to think I might be left with no help.


Fortunately, I learned over time that things go very smoothly with a little bit of planning. Within Canada, our major airlines like Air Canada and Westjet offer excellent help and services when you notify them ahead of your trip.


Here are some tips when preparing for your trip:


  • Plan out your route, from how you will get to the airport from home, to how you will arrive at your accommodation.



  • If you have layovers, allow yourself plenty of time for your next flight. Also leave yourself extra time to check-in.


  • If you have a motorized wheelchair, it is recommended to allow at least an hour ahead of normal check-in time.


  • Notify the airline that you will require special assistance at least one week ahead. Wheelchair assistance is available right to your seat on the plane.


  • You can request assistance with your baggage.


  • Service animals should be accommodated, but be sure to verify this ahead of booking. You will need to provide appropriate documentation and certificates for your animal.


  • Keep any medications, prescriptions or documents supporting your condition with you in your carry-on luggage.


  • Listen for the pre-boarding call and you will be able to board first, allowing you to get oriented and comfortable for the flight.


If you are still feeling anxious, a great checklist can be found here:


This will ensure that you are well prepared for your journey.


Last of all, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy. It is an empowering feeling to know that you CAN do it!


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