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Special Needs Travel: Here's Your Go-To Guide


Traveling by air and especially on long-haul flights can be tedious. More so, when you or your travel partner has special needs. Good news is, with some level of preparation and of course valuable information, you can have a smooth booking process and a safe, fun trip on any airline.

Here's what you need to know when travelling with an:
Unaccompanied Minor
An unaccompanied minor is a child from 5 up to and including 14 years of age who is not travelling with a person who: Is minimal 18 years of age. Has a confirmed reservation for the same flight and cabin as the minor under 14years.
  • Parent/guardian will book the ticket for the child travelling. (Full adult fare).
  • The child must be accompanied by an adult (18yrs and above) to the airport on the travel date.
  • Guardian will fill in a form provided by the specific airline (usually called a handling form) during check-in and pay a handling fee with the exception of domestic travel.
  • Airline staff will take over from there and escort the child to the cabin. The crew on board will have been informed of the unaccompanied minor to ensure comfort.
  • The accompanying adult will remain in the airport until the flight is airborne.
  • On arrival, the minor will be accompanied by staff to the guardian at the destination for identification and check-out in writing

Infant or Toddler
The term "infant" is typically applied to young children under one year of age; however, definitions may vary and may include children up to 2 years of age. When a child learns to walk, the term "toddler" may be used instead.
Infants and toddlers on board:

  • All infants shall be held on the lap of an adult during take-off and landing and when the "fasten seat belt" sign is on. An extension seat belt is available attached to the standard seat belt.
  • When the "fasten seat belt" sign is off, the infant may be put in the baby cot which is provided free-of-charge by the airline upon request.
  • Infants who opt to sit on a seat should be supported by pillows and fastened to the seat with the lap belt.

Expectant Mother
A new and expectant mother is a woman who is pregnant or has given birth within the previous six months. An expectant mother may be accepted for travel by air if she is not beyond 35 weeks. It is also discouraged to fly during the first week following delivery, for you and your baby. If you are expecting more than 1 baby, it is recommended to consult your doctor before travel. 

  • Pregnant women beyond 28 weeks of gestation must provide a letter from their gynaecologist or midwife stating:
    • The gestation of the pregnancy in weeks,
    • Whether it’s a single, multiple or high-risk pregnancy,
    • Any associated complications and other relevant information
  • Your return journey should be within a 36 or 32-week limit.
  • Your personal physician’s letter will only guide the airline medical team in determining fitness to fly.
  • Your health / travel insurance is expected to cover pregnancy-related issues that may arise while travelling.
Person with limited mobility
Passengers with reduced mobility have a medical, physical, or mental condition which requires attention, not given to other passengers during (dis)embarkation, when airborne, during ground handling or in case of an emergency evacuation.
  • A wheel chair provided for passengers free-of-charge with a reservation 48 hours before departure.
  • Passenger with reduced mobility can be able to travel alone if they can eat or administer self-medication unassisted.
  • Help from the on-board crew is limited in bringing the wheelchair to the passenger and pushing it to and from the lavatory. The passenger shall then be required to lift him/herself in and out of the onboard wheelchair unassisted and use the lavatory.
  • If the passenger is not able to support himself/herself, he/she must travel with a companion who is able to perform these functions on their behalf.

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