Going Abroad - Medical information - Part Three
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. Part 3 of the DDA relates to service providers', which include travel agencies, tour operators and businesses that provide accommodation and other leisure services. Service providers have a duty to make sure that, as a disabled customer, you're not unjustifiably treated less favourably than other customers for a reason related to your disability.
More detailed information on Part 3 of the DDA can be found in 'Access to shops, cafes and everyday services'.
Access to everyday services
Tourism and the Disability Discrimination Act
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and accessible air travel
Travelling by air is not covered by the DDA. However, the Act does apply to the use of services in the UK, like booking systems and airport facilities and services. For example, shops and check-in facilities in the airport are covered but in-flight services and entertainment on the plane are not.
Since July 2007, it has been illegal for an airline, travel agent or tour operator to refuse a booking on the grounds of disability, or to refuse to allow a disabled person to board an aircraft when they have a valid ticket and reservation. This applies to any flight leaving an airport in the European Union, and also to flights on European airlines arriving in the EU.
The law also covers people with reduced mobility, including those with a temporary mobility problem.
In very occasional circumstances these rights may not apply - for example, where there are legitimate safety or technical reasons why a disabled person cannot board an aircraft. In such cases, you must be told the reasons and offered a reasonable alternative.
To avoid things going wrong, if you need assistance at the airport or on board the aircraft, it is important that you make this clear at the time of booking (or no later than 48 hours before departure).
Further rights for disabled passengers will be introduced in July 2008. These will ensure a consistent and seamless level of service at airports and on board aircraft.
Airport and airline services for disabled travellers
Overseas travel advice
The travel section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website contains country-specific travel advice for anyone planning a trip overseas
The European Health Insurance Card
When travelling to a European country, make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card. It covers medical costs in most countries in Europe, although it is not a substitute for travel insurance.
You should always take out travel insurance before going on holiday. Many policies do not cover claims arising from 'pre-existing medical conditions' - any illness or health problem that existed or was diagnosed prior to you going on holiday. This means it is important to choose the correct policy.
Travel insurance for disabled people
The European Health Insurance Card
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), is for when you travel to another country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. It has replaced the E111 form. It is normally valid for 3-5 years. If you become ill while abroad, the EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment in the country you are visiting.
The card also covers any treatment you need for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness, and routine maternity care. Kidney dialysis and oxygen treatment are also covered but you will need to arrange these in advance. The EHIC does not cover you if medical treatment is the main purpose of your trip.
The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, which is always recommended. There are some things that the EHIC does not cover, such as repatriation.
Getting a European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card is free. You can apply for a European Health Insurance Card online, or find out how to apply by phone or at the post office, via the NHS website.