At the terminal

Image of a passenger waiting at the Terminal
ASL version of this chapter

It's time to go! It is essential for you to be aware of your carrier's check-in time to give yourself enough time to both get to the terminal and receive assistance to check in, drop any baggage and get through the terminal to the gate, including transferring to a boarding chair if you are travelling with your own mobility aid. Also, you should be aware that the carrier may require you to arrive at the terminal earlier than the regular check-in time to receive certain types of assistance. The carrier may also provide check-in and boarding gate cut off times that must be respected regardless of lineups at check-in and security.

Getting information about the terminal

ASL version of this chapter

Many terminals publish maps of their interiors on their websites so you can chart your own course ahead of time. Canadian terminals are also required to publish on their websites information on the following:

  • where the drop-off/pick-up area (curbside zone) is located and how to request assistance to/from it;
  • accessible ground transportation from the terminal;
  • the location of service dog relief areas;
  • accessible transportation between terminal buildings; and
  • wheelchair and electric cart services.

Inside larger terminals, you will probably find a help desk near the entrance where you can get information and help. Some terminals have automated information kiosks, which must be accessible to persons with disabilities in Canada.

Curbside assistance when you arrive at the terminal

ASL version of this chapter

In Canada, terminal operators are required to provide you with curbside assistance. This will help you proceed from the curbside zone to the check-in area or, if there is no check-in area, to a representative of the carrier. Terminal operators are also required to provide you with assistance with your baggage, provide a wheelchair if you need one or help you with your own wheelchair, or provide you with guiding assistance if, for example, you are blind.

There are different ways to obtain curbside assistance (for example, using a telephone or buzzer system located outside the terminal) and you may have to arrive at the terminal at a particular time in advance to receive the service. You should find out:

  • how to request curbside assistance at the terminal;
  • how early to arrive at the terminal to receive the assistance; and
  • where the terminal's drop-off and pick-up points for curbside assistance are.

It is important for you to tell the terminal operator what kind of curbside assistance you need so you get the right kind of help and avoid, for example, getting a wheelchair when what you really need is guiding assistance.

Note: Sometimes a carrier provides curbside assistance instead of the terminal operator. Your terminal operator will let you know if this is the case. Also, at bus stops, the bus operator must help you when disembarking to move between the bus and an area at the stop where you can wait.

For more information, see the CTA's Curbside Assistance: A Guide.

Moving through the terminal

ASL version of this chapter

Getting from the carrier's check-in counter to the boarding area can be a voyage in itself. Boarding areas may be far away. Many terminals publish maps of their interiors on their websites so you can chart your own course ahead of time.

Checking in

ASL version of this chapter

When you check in, reconfirm that you will receive the services you requested when you made your reservation and received written confirmation (this is usually in your itinerary).

Your carrier is required, upon request, to help you through the terminal to the boarding gate/platform and all the way to your seat on board if needed. If you have a service dog, you may want to ask for directions to the relief area. Terminal operators must provide designated relief areas outside the terminal and on the secure side, which can be reached without having to leave the secure area and re-enter it.

Mobility aids at the terminal

ASL version of this chapter

If you use a power wheelchair or other large mobility aid, your carrier will usually need time to prepare it for the trip. This means that somewhere between check-in and boarding, you may need to transfer to a boarding wheelchair. However, your carrier is required to allow you to keep your mobility aid until it becomes necessary to store it and if you use a manual, folding wheelchair, your carrier will generally allow you to remain in it until boarding. Your carrier may have asked you to provide written instructions for the disassembly and reassembly of your mobility aid, but you may want to ask how your mobility aid will be secured and stored.

Security screening

ASL version of this chapter

If you are required to go through a security screening process, screening officers will want to see your boarding pass, and they may ask to see prescriptions if you bring your medications on board. Keep your passport, boarding pass, prescriptions and any other important travel documents close at hand.

In Canadian airports, it is the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) officers who screen passengers entering the secure zones and boarding areas. If you ask, CATSA will:

  • expedite the screening process by directing you – and your support person if you are travelling with one – to the front of the line or to a different line designated for expediting the screening process;
  • permit a representative of an airline, or an individual with a security pass issued by an airline or the airport, to accompany you through the security screening checkpoint;
  • assist you with proceeding through the steps of the security screening process, including by providing verbal or visual cues or additional instructions;
  • make a private room available on request when a physical search is required; and
  • assist you with the placement of your carry-on baggage and personal items on a screening belt and with their retrieval.

If you are travelling with an assistive device, support person or service dog, CATSA must make every reasonable effort to carry out the screening simultaneously with the screening of the assistive device, support person, or service dog. Also, if CATSA removes your assistive device for separate screening, it must immediately return it to you after it has been screened. If your mobility aid is removed for separate screening, CATSA must offer you a chair while your aid is being screened.

Note: CATSA provides useful information for travellers with disabilities about the screening process on its website, including information for planning a trip and what to expect at screening checkpoints. You may want to consult the CATSA web site prior to travel to familiarize yourself with the screening process.

For more information, see the CTA's Requirements Applicable to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and the Canada Border Services Agency: A Guide.


ASL version of this chapter

Your carrier can provide you with assistance with boarding and, if you are travelling on a ferry, help you in moving from a vehicle deck to a passenger deck.

Your carrier is required to allow you to board in advance of other passengers if:

  • you have asked for help with boarding, locating your seat or cabin, transferring between a mobility aid and your seat, or storing carry-on luggage;
  • you are blind or have any other visual impairment and you have asked for a description of the layout of the airplane, train, ferry or bus, or of the location and operation of operating controls at your seat; or
  • you are disabled due to a severe allergy and have asked to clean your seat to remove any potential allergens.

Note: If you ask for this type of assistance, your carrier may require you to board before the other passengers or, if you arrive at the boarding area after the end of priority boarding, to board after the other passengers.


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