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Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance – Travelling With A Disability

Living in Central Scotland means that I’m conveniently placed to travel from two main Scottish airports; Edinburgh and Glasgow. Although, Edinburgh airport is usually my first preference when travelling by plane. I know many disabled people may be interested to know what assistance is available when travelling to/from Edinburgh Airport.

In this post, I share my experience of Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance when travelling with a disability for an outbound and inbound flight. There is also a video of the entire process from the Ambulift, transferring into the aisle chair and into my seat on the plane.

This image is of huge life-size letters spelling Edinburgh which is located outside of departures at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance Experience – Outbound Flight

Drop Off Area and Departures

Since we live not too far from the airport it made sense for my sister to drive and drop us off. This meant we didn’t have to pay for airport parking for the days we were away. Although we don’t need assistance at the drop-off area, there are help points that you can press to speak to someone and ask for assistance. A member of staff will then come to meet you, help carry luggage and guide you into the airport.

Inside the drop off area with disabled drop off bays.
The entrance to departures from the drop off point.

Special Assistance Check-In

We usually check in first and then head to the Special Assistance office. This time we decided to go straight to Special Assistance as we were passing it on our way into departures.

A sign in the special assistance office with the words "Special Assistance. Here to help you on your journey through the airport".Emma sitting in her power wheelchair in the special assistance office at Edinburgh Airport.

This office/waiting area is for disabled passengers and passengers needing assistance at some point throughout their airport experience.

The staff member behind the desk was really friendly and once I gave him my name, he called someone to let them know I had arrived. I explained that I didn’t need any assistance until boarding as we could make our own way to the departure gate. However, assistance can be given all the way through if required.

Flight Check-In

We then made our way to the special assistance easyJet check-in desk. This desk was the only one open so there were a few people in front of us, but we didn’t have to wait long.

It took much longer for us to be checked in because it was the desk agent’s first time dealing with someone in a wheelchair.

The easyJet special assistance checki-in desk. Emma waiting in the easyJet special assistance check-in desk.

Being the first wheelchair user she had checked in meant she wasn’t sure of the procedure. Despite asking her, she failed to complete and attach the form to my wheelchair detailing important information such as make/model, battery type etc. More on that later.

Security & Departures Lounge

Next up was security. We headed for the lift which took us to the next level. The fast track lane was empty so we were able to go through quickly and easily. We had put my wheelchair lateral side supports in Allan’s backpack so the bag got pulled through for a manual search. The side supports looked an odd shape on the screens but once they saw what they were they let us through.

A view out to the multistorey car park and air traffic control tower.

The border control agent was lovely and understanding. She worked around my inability to lift my arms and legs during my body search.

Again, if required you can request assistance through security if needed. We have had assistance through security at other airports in the past, but in Edinburgh, we have always managed.

An image of a British Airways plane on the tarmac and the view from an airport restaurant.

As soon as we entered the departure lounge we checked for our flight on the screen. It was delayed 45 mins. Then another 30 mins and another 30 mins. Just our luck. Europe was experiencing thunderstorms so it was causing chaos to flights.

Luckily our flight wasn’t cancelled like a lot of other flights. We filled our long waiting time by eating, plane watching and going to the toilet (twice).

Accessible toilet in the departures lounge at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance with Omniserv

Finally, it was time to make our way to the departure gate (1H). Since I can’t use the toilet on the plane I made sure I went again just before boarding. We squeezed through everyone queuing up and I approached the gate agents. I made them aware I was there, double-checked that special assistance was on the way and confirmed that I would be boarding first.

I asked the easyJet gate agent and the Menzies dispatcher for a form for my wheelchair as the check-in agent hadn’t completed it. They both told me Omniserv (the company that supplies special assistance) would do it. I didn’t think this was correct and it wasn’t.

The special assistance agents met us and took us to the Ambulift. Again we had to squeeze through everyone queuing up, but the special assistance agents led the way and made sure people moved to let me through. They chatted away with us and I felt completely comfortable with them.

Two special assistance agents standing inside the ambulift while it connects to the easyJet aircraft door.Emma sitting in her power wheelchair waiting to be transferred into an aisle chair by two special assistance agents.

Once inside the Ambulift, the driver drove us over to the plane and raised us up to the door of the plane. The special assistance agents began to fit the ProMove sling under me to prepare for the manual transfer.

The special assistance agents are fitting the ProMove transfer sling on Emma in order to transfer her from the wheelchair to the aisle chair. The special assistance agents are fitting the ProMove transfer sling on Emma in order to transfer her from the wheelchair to the aisle chair.

The ProMove transfer sling was a bit of a struggle to get fully down my back and under my legs. I think this is jointly due to the moulding of my wheelchair seat cushion but also to the special assistance agents feeling hesitant to tug and pull the sling under me.

With a little bit of reassurance from myself that I was happy for them to touch my legs and pull the sling under me properly, we were ready for the lift. With a quick efficient lift, I was transferred from my wheelchair into the aisle chair.

Two special assistance agents assisting Emma on to the aircraft. Emma is sitting in an aisle chair.

By this point, the impatient dispatcher had already started boarding the other passengers. So I was denied preboarding. This meant that the passengers were staring at me whilst strapped into the aisle chair and lifted into my seat. Boarding last as a wheelchair user and being stared at by passengers is not dignified in the slightest.

In this image Emma has been transferred into her seat on the easyJet aircraft. Two special assistance agents are making sure Emma is comfortable and putting her seat belt on.

Despite being boarded last which was no fault of Omniserv’s special assistance, I felt like my experience went smoothly. They were amazingly helpful and friendly. They made sure I was comfortable at all times and once I was transferred into my seat on the plane, they asked how I wanted to be positioned and even placed my seatbelt on for me. I couldn’t fault their service.

You can watch my experience with Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance here:

Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance Experience – Inbound Flight

After three amazing days in Amsterdam, it was time to head home again. Here you can read my review of my experience with Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Special Assistance.

An image of Emma in her wheelchair holding her passport and Amsterdam travel book.

We landed in Edinburgh after a slight delay leaving Schiphol airport. Before the passengers began to disembark we noticed that the Ambulift was getting put in place at the plane door.

We were a little confused by this and knew that there was no way my wheelchair was inside the Ambulift as we had literally just arrived.

Passengers hadn’t even begun disembarking and luggage hadn’t been unloaded from the hold, let alone unload my wheelchair.

Emma sitting in the bulkhead seats on the easyJet flight.

While waiting for the last few passengers to disembark we heard the cabin crew inform the ground crew that there was a wheelchair passenger onboard. As the last passenger left, the Ambulift driver and special assistance guys chapped the plane door to be let on.

Immediately the Ambulift driver has a bad attitude towards the two female cabin crew who were trying to explain to him that I need my wheelchair brought up to the plane. He insisted that my wheelchair would be lifted up the stairs to which the cabin crew explained it was a power wheelchair and too heavy to be carried upstairs.

It was as if he didn’t believe what they were telling him as he kept repeating “is it a manual or an electric wheelchair?”. He then peered over the partition in front of our seats and asked what type of wheelchair it was and when I told him it was a power wheelchair, he seemed annoyed, turned to his colleagues and said: “right we need to go back down to get the chair”.

A view from the aircraft window of the air traffic control tower and airside.

It’s always important to explain how YOU need to be lifted and what is best for YOU. You need to feel safe and comfortable. So when they returned I explain to them how I wanted/needed to be lifted after he asks if I can move myself across the seats (which I can’t).

I can sense he isn’t too happy about having to lift me. I need to stress that it was only the Ambulift driver that had a problem and a bad attitude as well as saying sexist comments to the female cabin crew.

I’m still unsure why the Ambulift driver was assisting with my transfer though. The special assistance agents assisting, however, were lovely and very understanding especially when I explained my inability to keep my feet on the aisle chair without having a strap across them as well as my need for a headrest and general poor balance.

The Ambulift driver, however, called me “demanding” for needing the support. He was rushing and seemed to want me off the plane as quick as possible at the risk of my safety.

Emma sitting in her wheelchair in the ambulift.

Thankfully once I was back in my wheelchair he left to go and drive the Ambulift. We are left with the two lovely special assistance agents in the Ambulift who chat away with us. They are completely the opposite of the driver and what I always expect from the service at Edinburgh Airport special assistance.

Additional Services Available At Edinburgh Airport

An amazing service available at Edinburgh Airport is the WelcoMe App, created by Neatebox. The Welcome App has been designed to allow the user to request specific assistance when visiting venues and in this instance, Edinburgh Airport.

This means that you can notify the staff at Edinburgh Airport that you are on your way, on the tram for example or have arrived. They will then come to meet you and provide the required assistance, such as guiding you to the airport. The Welcome App helps staff understand your requirements and improves disability awareness, which improves the user’s overall customer service.

The Eagle 2 Lifter is also available at Edinburgh Airport and I was lucky to be the first to try it out a few years ago. The Eagle Lifter provides disabled passengers who are unable to be lifted with a manual sling. This hoist can be essential for many disabled passengers wishing to travel by air and should be available at all airports.

Final Thoughts

I want to say that my experience with Edinburgh Airport Special Assistance has on the whole been very positive over the years. It’s unfortunate that this one Ambulift driver had such a horrible attitude and manner, but thankfully it is not what usually happens. The service I received on my outbound flight was fantastic by Gary and Reece as were the two special assistance agents on the inbound flight.

Have you been to Edinburgh Airport? What has been your experience of Special Assistance at airports you have travelled to/from? Do you have a favourite?

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Thank you to Omniserv and EasyJet for allowing me to film my experience.

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Meet Emma

Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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14 Responses

  1. Hi Emma I have MND and use a manual wheelchair. My experience st Edinburgh airport used twice have been fantastic. The only problem I had was caused by other special assistance users demanding their whole family be taken in the ambulift instead of just 1 carer which meant i had to go alone while my husband went to arrivals with the other passengers. When I got got to terminal there was no one to push me do I had to push myself and so was exhausted by the time I got to the baggage reclaim. As I said it was not assistance fault but in future I will not allow my carer to be sent separately as I really can’t push myself far at all. Compared to Glasgow airport which I used this year and was horrendous both outward and return I prefer Edinburgh! 💕

    1. Hi Angela. Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience of both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. Sorry to hear it wasn’t so good at Glasgow but thrilled it went well at Edinburgh despite the issue with the ambulift. That really wasn’t fair that you weren’t able to have your husband with you while the others had their whole family. Special assistance really should have spoken up and managed the situation better.

      Do you have any upcoming travel plans?

  2. As an Australian who would love to go back to Edinburgh one day, this time using a wheelchair, I am very grateful for your information. Great blog post Emma – thank you 😁

    1. Hi Leanne

      Thank you so much for your comment – great to hear from you. I’m also so happy you came across my blog and found it helpful 🙂

      That would be amazing if you visited Edinburgh again. Have you visited anywhere else in Scotland?

      Thanks again 🙂

  3. Hi Emma. I am so pleased to have found your site and I follow your journeys with special interest being disabled myself.

    I had a horrible experience at Edinburgh Airport a couple of years back. I cant remember the details but it was shambolic in regard to the special assistance and one officious female telling me that if the ambulift didnt arrive within a couple more minutes the plane would be going without me. She was horrible and I did report her.

    May I ask? You appear to have front seats on the plane which im my case too would be ideal but I am always told that being disabled they are not allowed to allocate these to me as they need able bodied persons in the event of an emergency! Any tip/thoughts in this regard?

    All my best. More power to your elbow( or whatever works best for you) x

    1. Hi Tom. Thank you so much for your comment – it’s great to hear your experiences too.

      That’s not so good that your experience at Edinburgh wasn’t a good one. I do hope the plane didn’t take off without you?

      Regarding the front row seats – that is correct about not being allowed to sit in the front row. However, that usually only applies to the seats on the left-hand side. I request the bulkhead seats as there is usually more legroom making it easier to be transferred into the seat.

      Do you have any upcoming travel plans?

      Thanks again for getting in touch 🙂

  4. Hi Emma………i just sent you my thots on your experience at the airport but may have pressed wrong button and its gone cyber!! Did you get it?

    Best
    Tom

  5. This was a really interesting read (even as someone who has no experience of using a wheelchair) – I’m ashamed to say that I’d never thought about how a wheelchair user might access a plane. But it sounds like Edingburgh Airport are doing a good job (despite the driver) and I hope that you continue to have good assistance from them.

    And someone else really found this post helpful too because they chose to add it to the BlogCrush linky. Congratulations! If you’d like your “I’ve been featured” blog badge, you can grab the code from my site #blogcrush

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

      I’m really glad you found this post interesting to read and please don’t feel ashamed that you haven’t thought about accessing a plane as a wheelchair user. Many people haven’t unless they themselves or loved ones are disabled 🙂

      Thanks again and I hope you’re having a lovely week!

  6. On Monday 18th March I was booked on a flight from Edinburgh airport to Palma, Majorca, the flight leaving at 8.30 am.
    I booked special assistance.
    When I arrived I was informed that I could not get assistance without a boarding card (first time this has happened) and, indeed, I did not get assistance. I had to recruit the help of Jet2 staff. The point of booking assistance is that I need it. I hope that this never happens again. My return to Edinburgh airport on Monday 25th March from Palma was quite the opposite – the service I have come to admire from Edinburgh airport.

  7. we had terrible problems getting of a Ryanair flight, into the ambulift truck, the hight from the aircarft onto the truck was a disgrace, far to high for my wife to cope with, it was a reall stuggle for her, used the Ambulift truck for years now never ever had such a hight step from the aircraft onto the truck very dangerouse,and very pain full for my wife, not nice Flight 6696 From Malta 02/5 landed aprox 16.30. any cometnts ? abouth the hight being so high, its for Disabled people is it not ?

  8. Hi Emma.

    I am a nurse living in London, I work with many people that require special assistance and wheelchair access and I love your blog. Can you recommend any restaurants with good wheelchair access in Edinburgh? I have a client going there on Tuesday and we’d love your advice.

    Thanks,
    Becky

    1. Hi Becky

      Thank you so much for your comment and massive apologies for my late reply. I’m so sorry I missed this. How did your client get on in Edinburgh? Did they manage to find good wheelchair accessible restaurants?

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