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New guidance on air travel published to support people with hidden disabilities

12 Dec 2016

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published new guidance for airports to help support passengers with hidden disabilities when they travel.

The new CAA guidance has information to help airports communicate more effectively with people before and during travel, which could help reduce stress and anxiety for people.

Epilepsy is a hidden condition, and many people with epilepsy can be concerned about travelling. As well as the condition itself, stress and anxiety can play a part in epilepsy. The new guidance will help airport staff to support people with epilepsy, as well as others with hidden disabilities.

The guidelines suggest that airport staff should have training on hidden disability awareness and communication techniques. The new information says that airports should provide detailed information for people with hidden disabilities before they travel. It adds that clear images and audio messages should be put in place to help people find their way around the airport.

Among other things, the guidance suggests that airport staff explain the security search procedure to people with hidden disabilities in advance. The CAA added that staff should ensure that people are not separated from the parents or friends they are travelling with during this time. People should be given the option to wear a bracelet or lanyard to help staff identify people who may need extra support.

According to the CAA, UK airports have welcomed the guidance and 30 of the UK’s largest airports will make the changes. The CAA will report on the impact of the changes next year.

Louise Cousins, campaigns manager at Epilepsy Action, said: “Epilepsy is a hidden condition which can have a significant physical and emotional impact on people’s lives. We know that many people with epilepsy worry about having a seizure in public.

“We are working hard to ensure people with epilepsy have fair access to air travel and can receive the support they need to feel more comfortable when going on holiday. This new guidance is an encouraging and positive step in making travelling a safer and a more pleasant experience for people with epilepsy.”

There is more information on epilepsy and travel on the Epilepsy Action website.

Comments: read the 3 comments or add yours


I booked a flight which was 7 hours long and was told I would have to pay extra for seats together for myself and my 13 year old daughter who has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy I explained she had epilepsy and it was important we sit together and that epilepsy is a disability and she needed her medication on the flight also I was told it was not a medical condition and I would have to pay extra for seats together this airline was Emirates I was very shocked about how unhelpful and uncaring they were.

Submitted by Debbie on

Hi Debbie,

We would be interested to hear more about this. If you have time, we would be very greatful if you could email our campaigns team - campaigns@epilepsy.org.uk

Thank you

Submitted by John-Epilepsy Action on

I took my epileptic daughter and my son with a rare skin condition to Florida some yrs ago, I am very scared about flying so my husband was trying to keep me calm. we were delayed by 24 hrs and told we would be put up in a hotel but that they couldn't guarantee us a family room. We would have to see what the hotel had left when we got there. I explained that we needed to be together due to the health issues. I was again told no. I then refused to leave the airport until they gaurentee the family room we required. Eventually we got this but it took a very long time and caused stress for me and my children as they had no idea about the dangers of epilepsy and leaving kids alone!! Spoilt the start of our holiday!!

Submitted by Allison on

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