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The Ultimate Guide to Taking Children with Special Needs on a Flight

July 10, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Children with Special Needs on a Flight

Booking a holiday and travelling can be extremely stressful, which can be heightened when doing it with a child. For parents of children with disabilities or special needs, this can add further difficulty at times.

Although many may think the trouble starts at the airport, the stresses can begin the moment you decide to go on holiday. Below we guide you through some of our top tips for taking a child with special needs on a flight, and how to prepare for this beforehand.


Researching and booking

Although this may sound particularly straightforward, it’s particularly important when travelling with a disabled or special needs child.

This will allow you to find out what’s at the hotel and the locations close-by, so you’ll be able to assess whether it’s an appropriate location – after all, the price isn’t everything. Similar things will also factor into your flight too, as you’ll need to ensure the flying time and arrival times don’t coincide with feeding times for example; this can also help you to define how far you can travel.

Tell the agent

If you aren’t booking your holiday from the comfort of your own home and prefer to go down a traditional route, travel agents are always there to help. Just ensure you have all the crucial details about timing and distances, along with what type of holiday you’d like, and they’ll be sure to sort this out for you.

Get assistance for your child

When you have a disabled child, there’s assistance you must be provided with at the airport under European Law. These include:

  • Getting you from your arrival point to the bag drop, which can be from the car park, train station or another drop-off point.
  • Getting you through customs to the boarding gate.
  • Helping you to board the plane and get to your seat.
  • Assisting with storing baggage in the overhead locker.
  • Help off the plane.
  • Assistance with retrieving any baggage or mobility equipment.
  • Taking you to the exit point of the airport, such as the car or coach park, car rental stops or train station.

 Liquids and prescriptions

We’re all aware of the restrictions placed on liquids in your hand luggage, but these don’t apply to prescribed liquids and essential pureed food. However, these will need individual prescription labels, and if you don’t have these, you’ll require a letter from your GP.



If your child hasn’t flown before, you can prepare them by exposing them to visual representations of flying. You can do this through books, where you can read and explain things to them and even videos online, allowing them to see everything beforehand.

Airport visits

As children with disabilities or special needs benefit from routines, flying could disrupt this, while the busy nature of an airport can also create sensory overloads. Visiting airports could help with this disruption, as you’ll be giving them the chance to absorb the airport atmosphere beforehand while sitting and watching planes with them can make the experience a little easier.

Goody bag

Whether you’re sat in the airport, or you’re on the plane, carrying a goody bag can be a great help for your child. Everything from their favourite toys and books, to snacks or colouring can help keep them entertained while keeping that layer of familiarity too.

Keep them comfy with specialist clothing

One thing that can disrupt a child with a disability is being comfortable, so ensuring they’re wearing adaptive clothing that doesn’t rub, stick or pull during the journey is an excellent safeguard against their unhappiness.

Travelling with a special needs or disabled child can be challenging, but being prepared is crucial. If you’re particularly worried about their comfort, then you can find plenty of specially designed clothing to help keep them happy here.

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UK(Age) Europeon(up to) US Chest(up to) Body Length(up to) Weight(up to) Tube Access Width
2 96cm/38" 2T 56cm/22" 44cm/18" 18kg/40lbs 8cm/3"
3-4 107cm/42" 3T-4T 60cm/24" 50cm/20" 21kg/46lbs 9cm/3.5"
5-6 116cm/46" 5-6 64cm/25" 54cm/21" 25kg/55lbs 10cm/4"
7-8 128cm/50" 7-8 69cm/27" 58cm/23" 35kg/77lbs 11cm/4.5"
9-10 140cm/55" 9-10 73cm/29" 61cm/24" 44kg/97lbs 12cm/5"
11-12 152cm/60" 11-12 85cm/33" 66cm/26" 54kg/119lbs 13cm/5"
13-14 164cm/65" 13-14 90cm/36" 72cm/28" 66kg/146lbs 14cm/5.5"
15-16 172cm/69" 15-16 102cm/40" 76cm/30" 72kg/158lbs 15cm/5.9"


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