Airport assistance codes
Have you ever wondered why your specific travel needs at airports can sometimes be misinterpreted and you can be offered completely inappropriate assistance? The experience varies from airport to airport, with Heathrow in particular coming in for criticism recently.
Part of the reason for this could be down to the airport assistance code that is allocated to you when you book assistance as the airlines use an internationally recognised code system. These are:
WCHR: Passenger who can go up and down stairs and move about within the plane, but who requires a wheelchair or other means of support for movements between the aircraft and the terminal, in the terminal and between arrival and departure points on the city side of the terminal.
WCHS: Passenger who cannot go up or down stairs, but who can move about in an aircraft cabin and requires a wheelchair to move between the aircraft and the terminal, in the terminal and between arrival and departure points on the city side of the terminal.
WCHC: Completely immobile passengers, who can move about only with the help of a wheelchair or any other means and who require assistance at all times from arrival at the airport to seating in the aircraft or, if necessary, in a special seat adapted to their specific needs, the process being reversed at arrival. This category also includes passengers with a disability only affecting the lower limbs who require assistance to embark and disembark and to move inside the aircraft cabin but who are otherwise self-sufficient and can move about independently in their own wheelchair at the airport.
BLND: Blind or visually impaired passenger, with or without a guide dog.
DEAF: Passenger who is deaf or hard of hearing or a passenger who is deaf without speech.
DPNA: Disabled passenger with intellectual or developmental disability needing assistance. This covers passengers with disabilities such as learning difficulties, dementia, Alzheimer’s or Down’s syndrome who travel alone and will need ground assistance.
MAAS: Passengers who require assistance and are not included in any of the other categories.
It is necessary to book passenger assistance at least 48 hours in advance of you travelling. Specifying your level of autonomy at the time of this booking will help avoid being miscoded and the subsequent provision of inappropriate assistance.