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New films make flying with a hidden disability less daunting

QEF and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have released new films to support people with hidden disabilities to fly with confidence. There are 4 films available providing expert advice and personal insights from people with autism, a stoma, dementia and aphasia, helping to make travelling by air less daunting.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions* 21% of people in the UK have a disability (1 in 5), which breaks down as follows:**
48% have mobility difficulties (1 in 2)
36% experience stamina/breathing/fatigue difficulties (1 in 3)
27% experience mental health difficulties (1 in 4)
16% experience memory problems (1 in 6)
13% experience hearing loss (1 in 8)
12% have a sight impairment (1 in 8)
14% have learning difficulties (1 in 7)

These figures highlight the number of people who are living with hidden and / or physical disabilities and for whom air travel can be more daunting due to the additional elements they need to consider.

QEF and the CAA wanted to show that air travel is possible with a hidden disability and so it was important that the films included real life experiences from people living with autism, a stoma, dementia and aphasia. Each person talks through the steps they follow to navigate the challenges their condition may create, so that they can fly with confidence. There is also useful information and advice to support people who may be held back by concerns about what the experience would be like for them.

Each of these films have been developed with the support of specialist organisations including Livability, Alzheimer’s Society, Plymouth University,  Colostomy UK, Dyscover, Autism Support Crawley, Thumbs Up World, Gatwick Airport and easyJet.    

The films were launched by James Fremantle, the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Manager for Consumer Policy and Enforcement, at QEF’s Mobility Open Day on 24th March. Several of the people who feature in the films had the opportunity to watch their films for the first time in the company of each other, which was a really positive experience for everyone involved.

James Fremantle said: “Disabled passengers have legal rights to access air travel and receive the support needed to do so. Part of my role at the CAA is to ensure these rights are protected and people have the knowledge and information they need to travel by air in comfort.

This includes people with hidden disabilities such as those who have starred in our films. The CAA is the world’s first aviation authority to publish guidance to airports and airlines specifically on providing assistance and support to passengers with hidden disabilities. This series of films provides personal insights and lots of useful information for anyone thinking about air travel if they have, or are travelling with someone who has, dementia, aphasia, a stoma or autism. “

Leo Visconti, QEF’s Director of Engagement and Partnerships said: “I would like to thank everyone who helped to make these new films about how to fly with a hidden disability, but especially Michael, Iffrah, Paul, Penny, Claire and Sandy who have each bravely shared their own experiences in order to help other people. QEF is committed to enabling disabled people to be as independent as possible and I hope these films will give confidence to so many people who may not have considered air travel previously.”

These 4 films are available at and on the CAA’s website. They complete the series about flying with a disability that started with the ground-breaking film focusing on Flying as a Powered Wheelchair User, which followed Jon and his Dad through every step of a journey by air.  
All films can be viewed at

Family Resources Survey (UK) 2018 to 2019



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