Heathrow launches new guide for disabled passengers

    Ade Adepitan MBE, the well-known wheelchair ba...
    Ade Adepitan MBE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Heathrow Airport has launched a new guide setting out what services disabled people can expect from airlines, travel companies and airports.

    The passport-sized leaflet, written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is aimed at making journeys by air as smooth and trouble free as possible for disabled people, people with reduced mobility and their families.

    The guide contains tips and topics such as assistance dogs, accessibility, getting mobility and other essential equipment on board, seating arrangements as well as legal advice.

    Developed in association with the Civil Aviation Authority and endorsed by the Department of Transport and other travel organisations, the guide will be distributed through airports, travel companies and organisations working with disabled people.

    Over 90,000 passengers requiring special assistance travel through Heathrow every month and the airport has welcomed the guide as another way to ensure passengers have the right information and are prepared for their journey.

    Prior to the London 2012 Games, Heathrow worked with the charity Whizz Kids, Lord Chris Holmes MBE and Ade Adepitan MBE, to better understand how to help passengers with reduced mobility travelling through the airport. Heathrow now has enhanced changing facilities, including more signage in Braille to improved staff understanding and refined processes like reuniting those passengers with their wheelchairs.

    Paralympian medal winner Lord Chris Holmes MBE, who is also Disability Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Dignity and respect are values we all share, yet too many disabled travellers have experienced the opposite. Airports are complicated places to navigate. Accurate and succinct information is key for passengers who require assistance. This new guidance is another way to help make journeys as smooth as possible – from the outset when booking flights or holidays all the way through to returning home.”

    Mark Hicks, Head of Customer Relations at Heathrow said: “Over 90,000 passengers with reduced mobility travel through Heathrow per month and we strive to meet each person’s needs. More than a million pounds has been invested in specific facilities to make their journeys as smooth as possible, such as a new bespoke changing facility in Terminal 5. As the guide says, passengers who require help should get in touch with their airline well ahead of travelling so that we can help make the right arrangements at Heathrow.”

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced the guide as part of its work to improve the experiences of disabled people using air travel and more information can be found on their website.