Aircraft Cabin Design for Disabled Passengers

Traveling by airplane can be stressful – long queuing, endless security procedures, passport controls, lost luggage. These are all parts of air travel we, as passengers, are prepared for. So if you are nervous before taking a flight, while planning when and how to arrive at the airport, think about what’s it like if you have a disability.

How Are Aircraft Cabins Designed for Disabled Passengers?

Many airlines do not have specially designed cabins for disabled people, although they are obligated to provide passengers with various types of assistance. These services include guidance to board, depart, change flights, seating accommodations, etc.

Airlines that appreciate the needs of disabled people generally offer onboard aisle chairs. These are specially manufactured wheelchairs that fit into airplane aisles. Disabled passengers use onboard aisle chairs during the entire flight, and for going to the bathroom, as well as to get to and from their seat any time necessary. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of these chairs, so passengers are advised to inform the airline about their requirements while making a reservation.

Even though aisle chairs are a handy solution, overseas flights cause more problems. The passengers are required to sit for a long time, and it can be quite discomforting. That is why some overseas flights operate with bigger planes. Bigger planes will allow for upgrading to ensure larger seats and more leg space. Furthermore, certain airlines offer seats that are completely horizontal, so that the passengers may lie down.

When it comes to seats, aircraft cabins should also have special seats that have a removable or folding armrest. These seats should be positioned near the aisle. From 30 seats in an aircraft, half should have the removable armrest. Aircraft with 100 or more seats should offer onboard wheelchairs.

Assistive Devices

Disabled people who travel by plane may need assistive devices that will help them to cope with difficulties related to the flight. These devices are miscellaneous and depend on the particular needs of individual passenger. The most common assistive devices are the following:

  • wheelchairs
  • crutches and canes
  • prosthetics
  • portable oxygen concentrators
  • continuous positive airway pressure

There is also an increasing number of products that help disabled people to travel by plane. A great example is a multipurpose wheelchair with shock absorbers (the same chair for transport, bathroom, security screening).

Access to an airplane can also be problematic. Some airlines use lifting platforms and elevators for transporting passengers.

People with hearing and visual impairment often also have difficulties while taking a flight. There are products designed to serve as guidance to people with visual impairment – audio-information signs, devices which emit vibrations, etc. There is also a noticeable improvement when it comes to developing aids for people with hearing impairment – from sophisticated electronic devices to mobile apps.

People with disabilities have long been marginalized. Hopefully, the future will bring nothing but relief in their daily lives. Let’s continue making their travel experience enjoyable.