Support from UK service providers
As this is guidance, please remember to check the European regulations specific to your mode of travel, or your transport operator or service provider, for detailed information as to their obligations and your responsibilities, when travelling out of and into the UK with a guide or assistance dog.
European regulation governs the support that disabled passengers, like you, can expect from your travel agent, the booking process, transport operators, the support you should get prior to travel, and what support you will be offered on the mode of transport you are using.
However, the UK’s Equality Act 2010, in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland, also places an onus on service providers in the UK to make adjustments to support disabled people up to the point of departure on the mode of transport they are taking.
The Equality Act, DDA and European regulations, for what is called support for Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) including people like yourself, usually place the following onus on service providers, although you should check with your tour operator, booking agent, transport operator, the regulation, and other sources of guidance and advice specific to the mode of transport you are using, as there may be logistical, operational, passenger safety and environmental factors, which will impact on the service being provided.
You can reasonably expect information from tour operators, booking agents, transport operators and port authorities to be in a range of accessible formats such as braille, large print, online, email, telephone and audio CD.
There is an obligation on service providers to make reasonable adjustment, or compensate passengers if their travel plans are disrupted, if there are delays to a journey or infrastructural or environmental factors delay or terminate a part of or all of a journey. Please check with the guidance and regulation specific to the mode of transport you are using, as this can vary between models.
There is an expectation with most modes of international travel to book in advance of travel at least 48 hours prior to departure. However, most operators should endeavour, wherever possible, to accommodate passengers who elect to turn up and go.
On most modes of transport out of the UK, transport providers or their agents may ask for proof that your dog is trained by a recognised guide or assistance dog training organisation. Please check prior to travel what documentary evidence they require ahead of time, or on the day, to meet with their expectations in this area.
Your ID book, issued by your Assistance Dogs (UK) member training organisation may be sufficient, or you may need to obtain supporting documentation from your Guide Dogs Mobility Team, assistance dog training organisation, or refer the transport operator to the International Guide Dogs Federation (IGDF) or Assistance Dogs International (ADI) websites for a list of recognised training organisations.
You can reasonably expect service providers or transport operators to support you with your disability-related mobility needs and boarding processes, prior to travel. However, please do check what you are entitled to expect from your service operator as there are variations in the expectations, dependent on the mode of transport and infrastructure to support it.
This may include:
- Meeting you from an agreed or designated arrival point
- Helping you to find the facility to spend your dog
- Support you with check-in
- Going through pre-travel PETS checks for your dog
- Assisting you clear security
- Assisting you with using facilities in departures
- Taking you through to the boarding process for your mode of transport
When re-entering the UK, you may also reasonably expect:
- To be met off your mode of transport
- To be supported through PETS checks
- Taken through border control
- Supported with baggage reclaimed
- Escorted through to arrivals
- Supported to spend your dog
- Taken to an agreed point of departure
Some Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) or terminal staff will stay with you prior to departure. Some may even spend time with you exploring the facilities on offer in the departure lounge. However, some will ask you to reside in a dedicated area prior to departure, although it should be reasonable to expect support with getting refreshment or accessing the toilet.
If you are delayed in the departure area, prior to travel, it is reasonable to get support for spending your dog, although you may have to hand your dog over to PRM or terminal staff to do this, as they will usually return to facilities the other side of security checks.
It is likely that you and other PRM category passengers will be boarded first, before other passengers, on some modes of transport. However, on your return, you may be asked to wait until other passengers have alighted first. Therefore, it may be some time before you can realistically spend your dog after leaving the mode of transport you have arrived on.
PETS checks will be carried out on your dog on your return to the UK. Some will be done prior to departure, on the transport itself or after arrival in the terminal building.
You will be restricted as to what you can take through security on your departure from the UK, so things like water for your dog will be restricted through security like other liquids, and will have to be obtained in departures or once you have boarded your mode of transport.
On arrival or departure from countries outside the UK, you will need to check with your transport operator or service provider as to the provision that is made to support disabled people and those with a guide or assistance dog.