How your attendant can fly for free in Canada if you’re on the autism spectrum

Under the Canadian one passenger, one fare policy, people on the autism spectrum who are unable to fly, take the train, or take the bus without assistance on board can travel domestically with an attendant of their choosing, and their attendant travels for free. Indeed the policy applies to anyone with a disability that prevents travel without assistance.

Each company’s interpretation of the policy is slightly different, and there are different hoops you need to jump through to invoke this; generally there’s an application form, accompanied by a diagnosis or a statement from a doctor. A telephone call from the company’s medical office might come as follow up.

Oliver has taken advantage of this right several times on Air Canada; it’s a tremendous boom to his independence.

Here are the relevant pages on airline websites to get more information and the proper forms:

This just policy is based on national transportation policy that states, in part:

Persons with disabilities have the same rights as others to full participation in all aspects of society and equal access to transportation is critical to the ability of persons with disabilities to exercise that right. Persons with disabilities have the same needs to travel as others — for example, for business, for pleasure, and for medical reasons — and should have the same travel options that are provided to others, such as those respecting mode of transportation, departure times, cost, quality of service and the ability to travel with friends, family or colleagues;

Persons with disabilities should not be placed at an economic disadvantage as a result of their disabilities and should not have to pay more for their transportation services than other passengers who do not have disabilities, including in circumstances where transportation service providers must provide different services to ensure equivalent access to the federal transportation network. This principle of accessibility forms the basis of what is commonly referred to in the community of persons with disabilities as the principle of “one person-one fare” (1P1F), which underlies the application.

While the policy may be well-known in some circles, it came as news to us, and it’s only because of the kindness and quick thinking of a doctor in the Air Canada medical office, who mentioned it when we called to book our first trip flying with Oliver’s autism assistance dog.

Please spread the word to people with autism and their families so that everyone knows.