Airport accessibility getting better – but Stansted and Gatwick need to improve, says report

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Most airports are now providing a good service for assisting disabled people, but airports including Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham all need improvement, a report by the Civil Aviation Authority has found.

Manchester was the only airport to be rated poor in the report, with long waiting times recorded. While the report said that Manchester was engaging with the issue, it was sceptical of it significantly improving its rating without further investment.

Requests for passenger assistance at airports has jumped 80 per cent since 2010, with over three million requests a year.

While most people surveyed were satisfied with the service they received at airports, the report noted that when something did go wrong at an airport for a disabled person, it was a major problem for the person involved.

A 2015 Trailblazers’ report heard that six out of ten respondents said their wheelchair had been damaged when travelling with an airline.

We are calling for all baggage handlers to have basic training on handling wheelchairs, supported by disabled people.

We are also calling for Eagle Lifters – a specialist passenger hoist – to be made available at every UK airport, and for all UK airports to have a Changing Places toilet at each terminal.

Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager, said:

“There are several problems we hear from disabled people about flying, but the most common is about wheelchairs getting damaged in transit – some simply won’t fly for fear of having their expensive, essential equipment damaged. Top of the list for all airports has to be ensuring basic training for all baggage handlers to prevent such damage and for all airports to have at least one specialist passenger hoist to help wheelchair users on and off the plane. While accessibility improvements by airports are of course welcome, several started from a low base and many are clearly not working well enough for disabled people.”

Trailblazers has now moved to pan-disability charity Whizz-Kidz (September 2020).

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