This page helps you find out more about what to expect at the airport when travelling with a hidden disability.
Arriving at the airport
Airport terminals can be busy places so it’s great to arrive prepared. Familiarise yourself with the websites of the airports you’re travelling through and establish the layout so you have an idea of what’s where. When you arrive at the airport, look out for the signs directing you to departures. Once there, you’ll see large screens which will display what check-in zone your airline is situated within. For example, at London Gatwick you’ll find us in Zone A of the North Terminal. The different zones are well signposted so you should easily be able to find where you need to go.
We always try to have a number of people in our uniform walking around our check in area. If you need any assistance or have any questions, please let them know and they’ll be sure to help. If you’re making use of our hidden disability bookmark or symbol, remember to show it!
At check in, you’ll need to present your passport and hand over any baggage that you’d like to check into the hold of the aircraft. You’ll receive your boarding passes and will then be able to make your way through Security.
Going through Security can be overwhelming, but knowing what to do in advance will certainly help. Some airports have Special Assistance lanes for those requiring assistance, which are great! Your check in agent will be able to inform you if the airport you’re travelling through has one of these, or alternatively you can call Special Assistance in advance and they’ll let you know. As you make your way from check in to Security, you’ll see lots of posters regarding items which are restricted and can’t be carried in your hand baggage.
Going through Security, you’ll need to hand over your boarding pass. This lets the agent know that you’re a passenger and you have a flight departing that day. You’ll then go through to the scanning area which may look a little daunting, but it’s fine. You’ll need to place your hand baggage into one of the trays onto the conveyor belt. Any laptops, powerbanks, liquids etc will need to be placed outside of your hand baggage so may need to be placed into a separate tray. You’ll then be directed through the x-ray scanning machine. This looks for any metal that may be on your person, so remember to remove any coins or phones that you may have in your pockets. Also, if you’re wearing them, remember to remove your belt and/or watch! If the scanner beeps, don’t worry, the Security agent at the scanner will talk you through the next steps.
Once through Security, the area you’ll then be in is known as the departure lounge. This is where you’ll wait until boarding of your flight starts. Within the departure lounge, there may be some shops or restaurants to help pass your time. Some airports have Special Assistance areas where you can wait away from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Look out for signs directing you to Special Assistance or ask a member of staff on the information desks in the departure lounge, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Within the departure lounge, there’s a number of large screens displaying flight numbers, departure times and the gate the aircraft will be boarding from. Keep an eye on the screen for this information. When it appears, you’ll be able to make your way to the gate using the signs to help guide you. If you have Special Assistance, an agent will help guide you to the gate.
When you arrive at the gate, you’ll be asked to show your passport and boarding pass so please have these to hand. You’ll then be invited to take a seat and wait until boarding commences. Listen out for an announcement inviting any Special Assistance passengers, or those who need additional time to board, to go ahead and board the aircraft, This will be your cue. When you reach the aircraft door, a member of our crew will greet you and direct you to your seat.
Arriving at your destination
Just before landing, you’ll hear an announcement by our crew requesting for any Special Assistance passengers to remain onboard until the majority of passengers have disembarked. When the aircraft has reached the gate, the seatbelt sign will come off and fellow passengers will stand and remove their belongings from the overhead bins. You’re welcome to remain in your seat until the other passengers have disembarked and then take your time to collect your belongings and leave the aircraft.
If you have Special Assistance booked, you’ll be met at the aircraft door and assisted through to arrivals. If you’d like to negotiate these yourself or with your party, follow the signs to immigration, baggage reclaim and onto arrivals.
If you have any questions on any of the above, please do contact our dedicated Special Assistance team who will be pleased to help.