Right to transport and right to buy a ticket
In the transport modes mentioned above, you cannot be denied transport because of your disability and you cannot be denied buying a ticket. However, this is the theory. In practice, there are many exceptions and, most importantly, significant barriers to accessibility which are not addressed under EU Passengers’ Rights legislation.
Persons with disabilities or reduced mobility have the right to assistance free of charge in air, rail; coach; and boat travel.
- You have this right even if your disability is not immediately obvious to other people.
- Pre-booking your assistance is not obligatory but it is recommended to give a 48 hour notice for air, train and boat travel, and a 36 hour notice for coach travel to ensure that assistance is ready and to avoid long waiting times.
- If you do not pre-book, the carrier (example: the train company) must make “reasonable efforts” to assist.
- You cannot be refused reservation or boarding based on disability, unless it is for “safety reasons” or the hold of the vehicle is too small to fit mobility equipment.
- They are not allowed to ask for a proof of disability.
When you travel by coach or boat, you are entitled to travel with an accompanying person of your choice free of charge if the carrier obliges you to be accompanied for “safety reasons” and would otherwise not let you travel. This means that this person, which you choose yourself, will not have to pay to accompany you.
Compensation for delayed, denied, or cancelled travel
If you are denied boarding, face delays of over 3 hours, or your flight is cancelled or overbooked, you can choose between being taken to your destination through different means (example: another flight connection) or having your ticket refunded, unless the cause of the delay or cancellation was outside the control of the air company. You may be entitled to compensation of between 250 euro to 600 euro – under certain conditions and depending on the distance of the flight.
- Consult the EU air passenger rights website
If your train is delayed by more than 1 hour, you have the choice between a ticket refund, continuing your journey on the same train, or alternative transport to your destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date. If you choose to stay on the train, you are entitled to compensation – either 25% or 50% of the cost of your ticket, depending on the length of the delay – unless the cause of the delay was outside the control of the railway.
- Consult the EU Rail passenger rights website and the section on train travel of the EU rights of passengers with reduced mobility’s website.
If the long-distance service (more than 250km) you are booked for is cancelled or departure is delayed for more than 2 hours, you can get a refund for your ticket or you can be transported to your destination at the earliest opportunity, and at no extra cost. If you are not offered this choice at the time, you can later complain and claim a refund for the ticket, plus compensation worth 50% of the ticket price.
- Consult the EU Bus and Coach Passenger Rights website
Boat Travel (except cruises and lesiures boats)
If the service is cancelled or departure is delayed for more than 90 minutes, you can either get a refund for your ticket and where necessary a free return journey back to your initial departure point, or you can be transported to your destination at the earliest opportunity, and at no extra cost. If your trip’s arrival at the destination is delayed by more than 1 hour, you are entitled to compensation (25% – 50%).
- Consult the EU Ship Passenger Rights website
For all four modes of transport, you may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as free phone calls) and an overnight stay, depending on the travel distance and length of delay. For more information, please visit Your Europe – Passengers’ Rights.
National Enforcement Bodies (NEB) have been established to support passengers claim their rights. Passengers can contact the NEBs if they have problems while traveling by air, train, coach, or boat, or if the companies fail to reply when the passenger has lodged a complaint.
EU Parking Card for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability, you might be entitled to a disability parking card, which should be recognised in all EU countries.
This EU parking card will give you access to several parking rights and facilities depending on the country you are visiting. However, the rules under which you can use the card might differ from your country of residence (for example duration of free parking time, parking in restricted areas, etc.). Therefore, make sure you are informed about the rules that apply locally.
You should get your parking card from the relevant authority in the country you live in.