ICAO Vocabulary 5 and 6: Passengers with Restricted Mobility (PRMs)

The passengers with restricted mobility (PRM) require specific needs during air travel. A PMR has to be provided with a priority boarding, disembarking and transferring with an assist during an air travel. What’s more, a person will receive an individual safety briefing and full assistance in flight. Depending on a type of disability, some extra privileges are reserved. Here is the description of all PRMs that are eligible for a certain type of impairment. All the paragraph include the IATA 4-letter abbreviations of SSR (Special Service Requests) at the beginning of each one.

Visually Impaired Passengers

BLND: passengers with impaired sight or blind, with a white cane or with a or guide dog / an assistance dog / a service dog that should be fully accredited by assistance dog institutions. A blind passenger or with vision impairment must have the original copies of all the documents in order to travel alongside a dog. If the documents are not handled, a dog has to travel as a regular pet. A guide dog has to be leashed or properly harnessed and a passenger is fully responsible for the sanitation of its companion. If you are required to travel with a carer, this person is eligible for a discounted airfare. If a white cane is not foldable or collapsible, it will be stowed under your seat. An airline carrier will provide you with an in-flight Braille safety card.

For safety reasons, visually impaired passengers will not be allocated an exit row seat (due to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requirements.

Visual impairment

Hearing or Speech Impaired Passengers

DEAF: passengers with impaired hearing, deaf or deaf-mute. Your safety video will be subtitled. Some people use hearing aids (headsets, audio receivers or battery-powered listening devices) and them throughout the flight. You can also travel with a service dog as long as it’s accredited (read more about guide dogs in a paragraph above about Visually Impaired Passengers).

For safety reasons, a deaf passenger will not be allocated an exit row seat. Some airports provide hearing loops in the terminals and airport lounges.

DEAF/ DUMB: a passenger is deaf-mute.

DUMB: a passenger is mute.

If a person prefers to lip read or use written notes the flight attendants’ instructions, the personnel has to be notified beforehand. Some airline employees can speak sign language.

Passengers With an Intellectual or Developmental Disability

DPNA: passengers with some kind of intellectual or developmental disability (Alzheimer’s disease or Down syndrome, autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities/ difficulties, etc.). DPNA must understand the safety instructions or he/ she must travel with a dedicated safety assistant. In order to travel without a companion a person must be able to: (1) open the seat belt, (2) put on a life jacket, (3) put on an oxygen mask, (4) understand all the safety information and follow the information when required, (5) reach an emergency exit unaided.

Wheelchair Assistance – WCHR, WCHS, WCHC

Wheelchair for Ramp (WCHR)

WCHR: Wheelchair – R for Ramp (Passenger can ascend/descend steps and make own way to/from cabin seat but requires wheelchair for distance to/from aircraft. Passengers who can go up and down stairs, and also move around within the plane, but who need a wheelchair or other means of moving between the aircraft and the terminal, around the terminal itself or between airport arrival and departure points.

A WCHR passenger is unable to walk long distances and, therefore, he/ she requires a wheelchair before embarkation and after disembarkation. A person doesn’t need help in a cabin.

Wheelchair for Stairs (WCHS)

WCHS: Wheelchair – S for Stairs (Passenger cannot ascend/descend steps, but is able to make own way to/from cabin seat). Passengers who require help going up or down steps, who need a wheelchair or other means for moving between the aircraft and the terminal, around the terminal itself or between airport arrival and departure points, but who self-sufficient for moving around the inside the plane.

A WCHS passenger is unable to ascend stairs, has a very limited mobility but he/she doesn’t need help in a cabin.

Wheelchair for Cabin (WCHC)

WCHC: Wheelchair – C for Cabin (Passenger totally immobile).Completely immobile passengers, who can only move around in a wheelchair or other similar means and who need assistance at all times from the moment they come to the airport until they are seated on the plane, even in seats for their situation.

Mobility Aids

Aisle wheelchairs (or an in-flight wheelchair) are a perfect solution for PRMs who want to transfer between their seat and lavatory during a flight. They aren’t self-operable and, therefore, always require assistance. The flight attendants are trained to assist but not to lift or carry a passenger.

Eagle Hoist/ Lifters are allocated to aisle seat on the right hand side of the aircraft seating. Take a look at a short movie below if you want to see how an Eagle Hoist works in practice.


Other PRMs

OXYG: Passenger needing supplemental therapeutic oxygen during flight

PPOC: Personal Portable Oxygen Concentrator

STRC: Stretcher Passenger

LEGL: Left leg in cast

LEGR: Right leg in cast

LEGB: Both legs in cast

Medical Clearances (MEDA)

MEDA: a medical clearance is a 2-part form that must be completed by both a patient and a doctor. The aim of it is to make sure a person who is encountering medical issues can travel safely by plane while he/ she is shortly after an operation or is undergoing a treatment or has an other permanent or temporary incapacitation and has to travel with that mean of transport. Moreover, MEDA will help an airline prepare and provide a suitable assistance or medical services which will help comfort a patient during air travel.

Medical Clearance (MEDA)