Virgin Australia welcomes all guests – including unaccompanied minors, the elderly and those with disabilities – and is committed to being your airline of choice. From time to time guests may require assistance when travelling. On this page we aim to explain the assistance that we can provide during flight and what our guests need to be able to do to travel independently.
As per Virgin Australia's Independent Travel Criteria (ITC), a guest may travel unaccompanied if they:
- Are able to understand and respond to briefings about emergency procedures;
- Do not require personal assistance beyond that described below; and
- (Travelling to/from the USA only) does not have a mobility impairment so severe that the guest is unable to physically assist in his or her own evacuation of the aircraft.
There are also some additional matters you may want to consider when deciding whether or not to travel with a carer.
We encourage you to take the time to read the detailed explanation below.
Understanding emergency procedures and responding to briefings
All guests must be able to understand, and respond to, briefings about emergency procedures.
In applying this requirement, Virgin Australia acknowledges that there are many methods by which people can communicate. These include sign language, lip reading, Braille, and using diagrams, communication boards and electronic means.
You do not need to be able to speak English – however you must be able to understand the substance of an emergency briefing given to you by our cabin crew, and be able to give some form of acknowledgement that you understand. The acknowledgement can be in any form you choose; so long as it conveys to our cabin crew that you have understood the substance of the emergency briefing given to you.
If you cannot understand and respond to briefings about emergency procedures, you must travel with a carer, who can assist you. Your carer must be physically and mentally able to assist you to carry out this task.
Personal assistance during flights
Due to space restrictions, guests cannot take their own wheelchair/mobility aids into the aircraft cabin. Our crew will provide you with assistance when transferring from your wheelchair to an airport wheelchair, then to your aircraft seat – and vice versa.
All Virgin Australia aircraft are equipped with an onboard wheelchair to assist with your mobility during flight. Subject to our Occupational Health and Safety requirements*, where you are not travelling with a Carer, Cabin Crew will utilise the onboard wheelchair to assist you from your aircraft seat to and from the door of the aircraft toilet. Our Cabin Crew are unable to provide toileting assistance. If you think you will need to use the toilet during flight, and require assistance with using the bathroom facilities, we require you to consider your needs thoroughly. For example, you may choose to travel with a catheter or with a carer who can assist you.
Our cabin crew are well trained in a broad range of skills including emergency first aid. However they are unable to administer personal medication to our guests.
Cabin crew are happy to assist you locate food and drink items during flights and can also open the packaging for you; however, they are unable to assist you with the process of eating or drinking.
In summary, while there are a range of things we can and will do to assist you during flight, there are some things we are unable to assist with, including:
- Using the bathroom facilities, including lifting to/from the toilet;
- Assist you with transferring to a wheelchair and/or an aircraft seat if you are 130kg in weight or heavier*
- Administering medication; and
- Food and beverage consumption.
If you need to do any of these things during flight, and cannot do so without assistance, we require you to travel with a carer who is able to assist you.
We want to give you every opportunity to make your own choices. If you are taking medication and require assistance to administer it, or require lifting to get to/from the bathroom etc, but feel that you will not need to do these things during your flight, then we are happy for you to fly alone.
If there is no way for you to avoid doing these things during flight you must travel with a carer who is able to assist you.
*Due to Occupational Health and Safety Laws, we are unable to transfer guests who weigh more than 130kg. In these circumstances, we can only assist with lower body transfers (guidance of the lower body/legs while transferring.) Guests who weigh 130kg or over and are unable to transfer to a wheelchair and/or aircraft seat without assistance (i.e self-transfer) will be required to travel with a carer.
Travel to/from the USA
For travel to/from the USA, in addition to the requirements above, for guests to travel independently, they must not have a mobility impairment so severe that the guest is unable to physically assist in his or her own evacuation of the aircraft.
If you are unable to physically assist in your own evacuation of the aircraft, you must travel with a carer who is able to assist you.
Additional matters to consider
We want to give you every opportunity to make your own choices, and that is why this section explains the level of assistance that Virgin Australia can provide in an emergency. These questions are not intended to prevent you from travelling independently. They are intended to inform you about the limits on the assistance in certain circumstances and what it could mean for you.
Ultimately it is up to you to decide whether or not – being fully informed of the facts – you wish to travel independently.
Please consider the information set out below:
Can you put on an aircraft seatbelt?
Putting on an aircraft seatbelt is similar to putting on a car seatbelt. However, in an aircraft there is no shoulder strap. We have lap restraint seatbelts only.
What you need to consider:
Your seatbelt needs to be fastened during take off and landing, turbulence and in other emergency situations.
While our cabin crew are happy to help you put on your seatbelt prior to departure and unlocking it after arrival, we cannot guarantee that they will be able to do this in an emergency. There are several reasons for this, such as: it may be unsafe for cabin crew to do so; or because they may be performing other safety tasks.
If your seatbelt comes undone during flight it will be your responsibility to request assistance from cabin crew to do it up again. We ask you to understand that there may be times when cabin crew are unable to provide assistance to perform this task (e.g. during an emergency).
For your safety, if you cannot put on your seatbelt, you may wish to travel with a carer who can help you in an emergency.
Can you put on an aircraft oxygen mask?
Putting on an aircraft oxygen mask involves:
- Reaching for a mask that will hang around head height when seated;
- Placing it over your mouth; and
- Securing it by pulling the elastic straps.
We recommend that two hands be used to secure your mask.
What you need to consider:
You may need to put on an oxygen mask during turbulence or in other emergency situations, and we cannot guarantee that cabin crew will be able to help you do this in an emergency situation. There are several reasons for this, such as: it may be unsafe for cabin crew to do so; or because they may be performing other safety tasks.
For your safety, if you cannot put on an oxygen mask yourself, you may wish to travel with a carer who can help you in an emergency.
Can you put on an aircraft lifejacket?
Putting on an aircraft lifejacket involves:
- Reaching for the life jacket under your seat;
- Removing it from the plastic pouch;
- Unfolding it and placing it over your head;
- Passing the straps around your waist; and
- Clipping the ends together and pulling the toggles to inflate.
We recommend that two hands be used to inflate and secure your lifejacket.
What you need to consider:
If you tell us in advance, we can put a lifejacket in the seat pocket in front of you. Despite where it is located, you may need to put it on in an emergency. We cannot guarantee that cabin crew will be able to help you do this in an emergency.
For your safety, if you cannot put on a lifejacket yourself, you may wish to travel with a carer or companion who can help you in an emergency.
If, under the guidelines set out above, you are required to travel with a carer (that is, you are unable to understand and respond to emergency briefings, or you require personal assistance beyond that described above) but do not arrive at the airport with a carer and provide us with incorrect or insufficient information, we respectfully reserve the right to decline your travel until you have someone available to accompany you. If this does occur, we will rebook you on a later flight, at no charge.
For more information on our Independent Travel Criteria please contact our Guest Contact Centre.