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Deaf Friendly Air Travel

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Deaf Friendly Air Travel

Air travel is noisy and has many obstacles for those who are travelling that are d/Deaf, or have hearing loss.

From going through security, the questions people ask, and navigating airports, to communicating with air cabin crew and making connections, we have some helpful tips and insights to help make your journey easier and less stressful.

Airlines Who Can Help Those Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Note: It’s always sensible to contact the Alternative Airlines customer service team to discuss your specific needs - we’re available via online chat, email, Whatsapp, and via social media.


Easyjet crew training includes highlighting the importance of how important it is for passengers to be able to lip read - including facing passengers when making announcements from the front of the cabin.

Easyjet allow free seat selection, as long as the passenger communicates their special needs at least 48 hours ahead of travel.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines offers assistance for those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing - at the travellers request via their Accessibility Service Request form once you have made a reservation - or you can add a note to your booking when you book with Alternative Airlines.


Qantas offer the following services for passengers who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Kerbside assistance (subject to staff availability, at all Qantas terminals in Australia)
  • Exit row seating for passengers with hearing that is corrected by the use of a hearing aid/device
  • Hearing loops in some airport lounges and terminals (signage will show where this is available)
  • Captioning on television programs in some airport lounges and terminals
  • Priority boarding for passengers with hearing that is not corrected by the use of a hearing aid/device
  • Relevant information and support by cabin crew when inflight announcements are made, in the passengers preferred communication method (eg written notes or lip reading) - passengers are to make themselves known to crew in order to receive this service
  • Captioning on some in flight movies and entertainment programs
  • Three subtitled or captioned English language movies on services with Audio Visual On Demand (AVOD) in-flight entertainment systems
  • English subtitles on a number of foreign language films on long-haul aircraft (Airbus a380, Boeing 747, Boeing 787, Airbus a330) that are equipped with AVOD
  • At request, Qantas can assist with flight connections and baggage transfer

Additional points of note for passengers who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing and flying with Qantas:

  • For passengers who choose to bring their own headsets, in order to connect to the AVOD inflight entertainment system, a two-pronged jack is required, and a one-pronged jack is required to use the provided iPads on eligible flights. If necessary, passengers will need to bring their own adaptor for these.
  • Passengers with Bluetooth hearing aids/devices cannot be seated in exit rows on Boeing 747 aircraft as on this type of aircraft, Bluetooth must be switched off during taxi, takeoff, and landing
  • Passengers with Bluetooth hearing aids/devices can use them at all times onboard QantasLink, Boeing 787, Boeing 737, Airbus a330Airbus a380 and aircraft.

Cabo Verde Airlines

Cabo Verde Airlines offer the following services for passengers who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Dedicated special assistance desks at check-in
  • Assistance professionals for your journey should you require
  • Information from in-flight crew on:
  • Staff meeting passengers at aircraft on arrival at transfer airport or final destination
  • Staff to accompany passengers through the landing process, including passport control, luggage claims, and customs


Emirates offers the following services for passengers who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Special assistance in the event that a flight is delayed, or if a departure gate is changed post check-in (passengers must inform check-in agents if this service is needed)
  • Individual safety briefings as requested by passengers
  • Updates from flight attendants when announcements are made in flight English and Arabic captioned pre-recorded video aircraft safety videos
  • Many close captioned movies on aircraft equipped with the ice entertainment system
  • Onboard headphones compatible with ‘T’ position equipped standard hearing aids

Travel Tips For D/Deaf or Hard of Hearing Travelers


When you have hearing loss, the hustle and bustle of traveling by air, train, bus or ship can seem daunting. But with a little advance planning, you can keep everything running smoothly.

Give Notice

If you are d/Deaf or hard of hearing and will require assistance at the airport it is recommended that you inform Alternative Airlines (via the notes section when booking, online chat, Whatsapp, or email),or the airline you are travelling with as soon as you can, so that they may make the necessary staffing arrangements. It is best, if at all possible, to give them at least 48 hours notice.

Be Clear About What You Need

Not everyone has the same needs, so airport and airline staff shouldn’t assume anything. Ask about what is provided, tell about what you need, and be clear about this.

Know Where You Can Get Assistance

For many airlines, assistance can be arranged to help you at check-in, custom controls and baggage check.

You should also be able to request that a member of staff informs you personally as soon as information is announced regarding your flight. The majority of public address systems at airports should include induction loop facilities, which will amplify the sound when you use the 'T' switch on your hearing aid.

Many airports will have text telephones and public telephones fitted with induction loops should be available.

Flying With an Assistance Animal?

You can find out more about flying with an assistance animal on our Flying with Special Service Animals page.

Before booking your flight ticket you should always check the airline's policy on carrying assistance animals.

Keep Up-To-Date

Make sure to sign up for text or email alerts for your airline, so you won’t miss important announcements about delays or cancellations.

Use The Airline's App

Aside from flight display boards, using the airlines’ mobile app is the best bet for staying up-to-date on important information.

Flight display boards aside, your best is by using the airlines’ mobile apps. These tend to be pretty user friendly and will notify you the moment there is a change to your flight — often even before the gate agent makes an announcement about it.

When in Doubt, Bring Things Along

Consider bringing your equipment for drying and storage, especially if you are travelling to humid climates. If you're traveling internationally, don’t forget a voltage converter. Make sure to pack hearing-aid supplies such as tubing and batteries in your carry-on.

A Quick and Easy Way To ‘Talk’ In Noisy Environments

Having a pen and a pad of paper, or notepad app on your smartphone can help with communication in hectic or loud situations.


Hearing equipment can be kept on when passing through metal detectors, body scanners and such, but it is advised that you notify a security officer. You can do this discreetly before screening begins by carrying a notification card.

Make Use of Preboarding

Preboarding can be really handy for passengers with additional needs - you’ll typically be one of the first on the plane, which will give you plenty of time to communicate with the flight attendants and verify your preferred communication method. Plus, you also won’t need to worry about finding space for your bag in the overhead bins!

Flying Solo?

If you’re travelling alone, make sure to let the gate staff, flight attendants and your seat partner(s) know that you have hearing loss so they will alert you about any announcements.

On The Plane

When you’re on the plane, make sure to inform the appropriate service personnel of your needs, so they will make an extra effort to reach you in an emergency.

In-flight Entertainment

Closed captioning (CC) for in-flight entertainment is an absolute dream, but it isn’t always consistently offered.

In the US, The US Department of Transportation recently mandated the following:

As a covered carrier, you must ensure that any IFE system installed on a newly delivered aircraft and any newly-installed IFE system on an existing aircraft is capable of supporting closed captions in either fixed image (e.g., bitmap format) or as user-customizable text after the effective date of the final rule. As a covered carrier, you must also ensure the IFE system offered on a newly delivered aircraft and any newly-installed IFE system on an existing aircraft is capable of conveying audio description for content that are audiodescribed.

Source: US Department of Transportation, accessed 22/08/2019

After Your Flight

Airlines’ mobile apps and text alerts will typically provide you with important arrival information like gate and baggage carousel numbers. If you are connecting on to another flight, you can ask ground crew if someone can accompany you to your next gate. Don’t feel held back from asking for help from airline and ground staff as and when needed.

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Contact Customer Service

Note: It’s always sensible to contact the Alternative Airlines customer service team to discuss your specific needs - we’re available via online chat, email, Whatsapp, and via social media.

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