This Saturday (July 14), London Heathrow Airport is opening its doors to show persons with disabilities the assistance options available at each stage of the journey. The airport will also be asking for feedback on how to further improve services available to passengers who require support.
This event coincides with the launch of the Civil Aviation Authority’s annual report on special assistance service, which has classified Heathrow’s service as “good” – following the airport’s improvement in service levels, oversight, and investments since last year.
The first of a series of events to promote accessible air travel, the Heathrow Open Day will be run by the Accessible Transport Forum (ATF), the grassroots arm of the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG) in conjunction with Heathrow airport, British Airways and the airport’s special assistance provider, OmniServ.
The event is aimed at providing a general introduction to air travel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, while following events will offer more focused tours for passengers with specific needs – for example, for those passengers who travel with personal wheelchairs, or those with hidden disabilities.
Roberto Castiglioni, chair of HAAG, said, “Engaging with persons with disabilities is essential to keep accessibility at the forefront of Heathrow’s thinking, especially now that the expansion plan has entered a more dynamic phase.
“In the coming months, the HAAG will work with Heathrow to help develop the accessible airport of the future, an environment for everyone to use.”
The events will be held on the same day the Civil Aviation Authority publishes its new Airport Accessibility Report. This report acknowledges the steps Heathrow has made in improving its service for people with disabilities, which has restored the airport’s ranking to ‘good’ following a ‘poor’ rating the previous year.
The new ranking follows a year of rapid changes for Heathrow which saw the HAAG established; £23m (US$30m) invested in new equipment, resources and technology; and the introduction of innovations including a distinctive lanyard for passengers with hidden disabilities.
Jonathan Coen, customer relations and service director, Heathrow, said, “We are very pleased that the hard work, and investments of our colleagues and partners has paid off and resulted in a ‘good’ ranking this year.
“But we have much further to go – and we need to continue to work hard to fulfil our vision to make every journey better, for every passenger. In addition to growing our passengers’ confidence to fly, I hope the feedback from these Open Days leads to more improvements so one day we can set the standard for outstanding service for people with disabilities.”