Travel (For Healthcare or Vacation Purposes)
Air Travel for People with Disabilities
How does Muscular Dystrophy affect your flying experience?
There are many aspects of flying that may be impacted by having a physical disability, including:
- A requirement for a ‘fitness to travel’: If this is required, it will need to be obtained from a medical professional, such as your GP, prior to the flight.
- Size restrictions on mobility aids and/or other assistive equipment: It is important to check that your mobility aid or assistive equipment can be loaded on the plane. Most airlines will carry your essential main mobility aid free of charge, however large mobility aids such as electric wheelchairs will have to be checked in along with baggage. Make sure you carry information about the wheelchair battery so it can be provided to airport/airline staff if necessary.
- Entrance to the plane in the absence of aerobridges: This generally involves specially designed lifts to get you safely on and off the plane.
What is in place to help?
Most airlines and airport operators have a Disability Access Facilitation plan which outlines how they meet the needs of travellers with disabilities.
Make sure you contact the airline during or before booking to discuss necessary arrangements so that they can best meet your needs.
Many airlines and airport operators also have information on their website for passengers with medical conditions or physical disabilities. It is important that you read this information.
Airline staff can provide assistance getting on and off the aircraft and personal assistance during the flight, such as opening meal containers or assistance getting to the toilet.
If it is not possible for you to travel independently, check if the airline supports the Companion Card, as a carer’s airfare may be subsidised.
Where can you find more information?
For more information, consult your airline of choice and read this helpful guide provided by the Western Australian Disability Service Commission: www.disability.wa.gov.au/Global/Publications/For%20individuals%20families%20and%20carers/Prepare%20for%20take%20off.pdf
Patient Assisted Travel Scheme
What is it?
The Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel and accommodation for eligible permanent country residents, and their approved escorts, who are required to travel a long distance to access certain categories of specialist medical services including Telehealth. Most specialist medical services covered by Medicare are eligible under the PATS.
Are you eligible?
You are eligible if:
- You are a permanent resident in a WA Country Health Service region (Peel is not part of the WA Country Health Service) who need to travel more than 100 km to the nearest eligible medical specialist services, or
- You are a country patient who needs to travel more than 70km (each way) to access specialist medical treatment for cancer or dialysis and the health service is unable to provide a transport service.
Escorts may be approved for people with certain medical conditions, including people undergoing cancer treatment, the frail or people with a disability and people under 18 years of age.
How do you apply?
It is necessary to submit your application prior to travel except in situations where it is necessary to travel urgently. Your general practitioner must complete and sign the PATS application form and it can then be faxed, emailed or posted to your nearest PATS office for approval. This process is slightly different for those living in the South West (for those residing in the South West, phone 1800 823 131 for further information).
Apply or view more information at: wacountry.health.wa.gov.au/index.php?id=pats
QANTAS Carer Concession Cards
What is it?
A Qantas Carer Concession Card is issued to people who have a disability needing a high level of support, and who require the full-time assistance of a carer whilst they are on an aircraft.
Eligible cardholders and their nominated carer will receive the following discounts for Qantas domestic travel within Australia (subject to booking class availability):
- 10% discounts for the Cardholder travelling Economy Class and a 50% discount for the Carer travelling Economy Class, or
- 50% discount for the Cardholder travelling Business Class and a 50% discount for the Carer travelling Business Class.
Discounts are not available for international travel, flights operated by any of Qantas’ alliance partners, or in conjunction with any other concessional airfare.
Are you eligible?
You are eligible if you require one-on-one support when seated on the aircraft for assistance with meals/drinks, transferring to the bathroom, toileting, administration of medications or communicating with flight staff.
You are not eligible if you only require assistance boarding the aircraft, or once you arrive at your destination.
How do you apply?
People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA) is responsible for issuing these cards, thus all queries should be directed to PWDA.
Applications must be signed by a medical professional that sees the applicant on a regular basis and must be accompanied by a passport sized photo. The application and photo must be sent together to PWDA: PO BOX 666, Strawberry Hills, NSW, 2012, Australia. The application form can be found at: http://pwd.org.au/services/qantas-card/