To ensure an excellent experience for passengers with disabilities, our airports are rolling out a large number of initiatives to improve terminal accessibility and comfort through innovation, training programmes and by raising staff and other passengers’ awareness.
As a result of the mobility and service changes made at airports in the UK, the number of passengers with reduced mobility or a disability continues to grow. Our airports are transforming their terminals and launching numerous differentiating and innovative initiatives that lead the way and ensure these passengers have an excellent experience.
A new bundle of measures at Heathrow
During 2017, Heathrow welcomed almost 1.3 million passengers with reduced mobility – the most of any airport in Europe – as well as any passengers with hidden disabilities. Heathrow’s goal is to provide a welcoming and accessible airport that ensures all passengers can travel in the way they choose with the dignity and care they expect.Heathrow is taking proactive steps to transform its service for their most vulnerable passengers, backed by an investment of £23 million in a revamped, upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. As part of this improved contract, Heathrow is introducing new equipment to its operation, ensuring greater provision of information to prepare passengers for their journey, and providing accredited disability awareness training to airport staff.
New measures already being rolled out at Heathrow include those aimed at empowering passengers with hidden disabilities such as autism or dementia, to be as independent as possible when travelling. Last year, Heathrow launched a sunflower lanyard, which discreetly indicates to airport staff that the passenger has a hidden disability and they may need additional support. The airport also rolled out a new on-demand app which enables the 7,000 deaf passengers who travel through the hub each year to communicate with airport staff, by connecting them to a qualified British Sign Language interpreter within seconds.
Heathrow launches new measures to provide a welcoming and accessible airport that ensures all passengers can travel in the way they choose with the dignity and care they expect.
Heathrow’s significant progress has been recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority, which recently upgraded the airport’s accessibility performance rating to ‘good’. Passengers with reduced mobility or hidden disabilities represent one of the fastest growing demographics in the aviation industry, and Heathrow is committed to transforming their airport experience.
In addition, Heathrow has created a group made up of independent accessibility advisors to help the airport fulfil its vision of becoming an industry leader in terms of accessibility and inclusion.
Glasgow: Leader in virtual programmes
Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports have rolled out several initiatives over the last few years to help people with dementia and autism.
Glasgow has become the first British airport to introduce a virtual tour aimed at raising employee and passenger awareness with regards
the challenges faced by people with dementia.
The virtual tour has been launched one year after the introduction of a similar programme for people with autism. The number of passengers with autism has increased fivefold in the last year at the airport and Glasgow became the first airport to use this kind of tool.
Glasgow has recently invested in improvements to its facilities for passengers with disabilities. These improvements include a new assistive listening system in the airport terminals to help hard-of-hearing passengers, an Eagle 4 lifter hoist to help move people with reduced mobility and to help transport people who use a wheelchair to their plane seats.
Glasgow also shares the philosophy that small changes can sometimes have a large impact and has updated the signs on disabled toilets to include symbols for other hidden or cognitive conditions.
Lastly, Glasgow has become the largest airport in Scotland to introduce a dedicated Changing Places room for passengers with complex needs. The £140,000 facility was opened last August to support passengers with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
These are just some of the many solutions our airports are putting in place to ensure that all passengers have a safe, pleasant and memorable experience as they travel through our terminals.