When is assistance special? Travelling with a visual impairment
August 18, 2015

Aeroplane on runway

Hi, Beverley here…

I understand that asking for special assistance (SA) when you travel is not for everyone. I recently travelled to France from Stansted Airport and asked for this service for the first time. My dilemma was that I didn’t see the assistance I required as ‘special’. I just needed a little help. So I called Ryanair and said, “I have a visual impairment and difficulty reading the departure board, does that warrant special assistance?” I was greeted with silence and a “well do you want it or not?” The rep, sensing my confusion, not only booked me in for SA but my seats for both outbound and inbound journeys. This turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done.

At Stansted airport SA is conveniently located by the entrance to departures. It is a small cordoned off section with a desk and waiting area. Three friendly staff coordinate passengers who have mostly mobility issues and sensory impairments, to get to their gates and board their flights safely. Even if you haven’t booked they will help, but since some of the gates are 20 minutes walk away and helpers limited, fitting ad hoc passengers into already booked timetables is difficult. So the only advice I can give you is, if you think you might need SA, don’t be confused, just book it. You can always, as I did on the way back, go solo!

Why not check out Ryan Air Special Assistance or Stansted Airport Special Assistance.

Beverly is a friend and supporter of Living Paintings.

If you’d like to explore a tactile picture of a British Airway Boeing 747 as a good introduction to plane travel, then you can find one in our Super Transport Touch to See book.

Beverley is a friend and supporter of Living Paintings. Beverley is also a blogger on the history of women’s travels and writing.

Photo of Bev



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