The UK government has announced plans to introduce a passenger charter that will be adopted by airlines and airports in a bid to improve the travel experience for all passengers, with a particular focus on those with reduced mobility.
Through a partnership between industry and government, the charter will promote best practice and create a shared agreement of the required service levels for passengers, ensuring improvements are felt throughout their journey.
A major focus of the charter will be improving the flying experience for disabled passengers – providing clarity on the assistance that should be provided to people traveling with reduced mobility and hidden disabilities.
The government has worked with industry, including disability advisory groups, to put forward a number of proposed measures, including:
• strengthening accessibility standards for airports and introduce new standards for airlines;
• ensuring better training for airport and airline employees;
• raising awareness among disabled passengers of their rights to assistance and how to obtain it;
• improving storage standards for wheelchairs and waiving limits for compensation payments;
• working with industry to achieve the long-term goal of passengers being able to fly in their own air-worthy wheelchairs.
Performance against the charter will be monitored and regularly reviewed publicly by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and action will be taken if improvements aren’t made voluntarily, bolstered by an extension of legal standards and enforcement powers for the CAA, including fines for breaches of accessibility and compensation measures.
The charter will also set out service level standards for all passengers for timely and simplified resolution of complaints and claims for compensation when flights are disrupted to improve the service offered to passengers.
Aviation minister Liz Sugg, said, “Our fantastic aviation industry connects passengers to destinations across the world with some of the best fares available. But we are determined to work with industry to continue to drive up service levels and the new passenger charter aims to improve the experience of all passengers when they fly.”
Accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani added, “We need to address the fact that 57% of disabled passengers say they find flying and using airports difficult. That’s why our proposed passenger charter includes measures designed to make real changes that will improve the accessibility of flying, building on the ambitions set out in our Inclusive Transport Strategy earlier this year. We are committed to continuing the progress the industry has already made in making the aviation network truly open to all.”
The passenger charter will be proposed as part of the government’s aviation strategy consultation later this year, which will be consulted on for 16 weeks before the finalization of the government’s policy in 2019.
Commenting on the proposed charter, Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said, “CAA figures show that more than 8 in 10 people had a good experience on their most recent flight, demonstrating that the UK aviation industry is offering a great experience for passengers.
“Nevertheless, as an industry we are always looking to build on our success. As part of that, we look forward to working with government through the aviation strategy on a passenger charter to further improve the experience for all passengers.”
To watch a video about the passenger charter, click here.