Heathrow hosts first of a series of events to promote accessible air travel to persons with disabilities

Heathrow hosts first of a series of events to promote accessible air travel to persons with disabilities

  • First Heathrow Open Day will welcome passengers with disabilities on a tour of Terminal 5
  • Prospective passengers will view Heathrow’s assistance options, ask questions, offer suggestions and grow their confidence before they fly  
  • New CAA Airport Accessibility Report acknowledges Heathrow’s improvements in its customer service for persons with disabilities

LONDON, UK, 2018-Jul-17 — /Travel PR News/ — This Saturday Heathrow will open its doors to show persons with disabilities the assistance options available at each stage of the journey and to listen to their 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.

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. This event is aimed at providing a general introduction to air travel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, while following events will offer more focussed tours for passengers with specific needs – for example, for those passengers who travel with personal wheelchairs, or those with hidden disabilities.

The Accessible Transport Forum (ATF) is part of Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG) whose key objective is to bring accessibility and inclusion to the forefront of Heathrow’s agenda.

HAAG Chair Roberto Castiglioni 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 launch of the events comes on the same day the Civil Aviation Authority has published 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 last year.  The new ranking follows a year of rapid changes for Heathrow which saw the HAAG established, £23 million invested in new equipment, resources and technology, and innovations like a distinctive lanyard for passengers with hidden disabilities introduced.

Reacting to the report,  Heathrow Customer Relations and Service Director Jonathan Coen 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.”

Notes to Editors:

About Heathrow:

Heathrow is Europe’s largest airport and one of the world’s top international aviation hubs. As the UK’s global gateway, Heathrow welcomes more than 76 million passengers every year with a commitment to making ‘every journey better’. The airport is home to more than 80 airlines and is Britain’s largest cargo port, helping to drive British trade growth by connecting the nation to more than 190 destinations around the world. Following an investment of more than £11 billion over the last 10 years, Heathrow is currently ranked by passengers as the ‘Best Airport in Western Europe’ for the third year running and the ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ for eight years in a row.

The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising at approximately 8% annually, with over one million requests in 2017 alone – more than any other European airport.

About Special Assistance:

Passengers that have disabilities or mobility difficulties requiring special assistance should contact their airlines or Heathrow Special Assistance at  special_assistance@heathrow.com

About the Heathrow Access Advisory Group

First of its kind, the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (www.haag.org.uk) remit is to act as Heathrow’s critical friend as well as promote accessibility and inclusion in every aspect of the business. Featuring well-known disability advocates, the HAAG has had a prominent role in Heathrow’s new wayfinding concept, the supported internship project in partnership with NESCOT College leading to the hiring of young adults with disabilities in Heathrow’s workforce, the revision and improvement of disability awareness training protocols for security staff, and constant monitoring of service quality output. The HAAG is now focusing on promoting accessibility and Universal Design in Heathrow’s expansion plan.

About the Accessible Transport Forum:

Coordinated by Graham Race, a known advocate in the field of accessible air travel, the ATF directly engages with persons with disabilities and their support organisations to enhance the airport’s understanding of how to further improve services for passengers who require a fully accessible environment. Membership is open to local, national and international organisations and charities to reflect the diversity of the 1.2 million people that use the airport’s special assistance services each year. Current members of the ATF include Guide Dogs for the Blind, Colostomy UK, National Autistic Society and Danlos UK.

About Heathrow Open Days:

Dates and details of all Heathrow Open Days are available on the HAAG’s website: https://www.haag.org.uk/about-haag/accessible-transport-forum/


Email: media_centre@heathrow.com

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8745 7224

Source: Heathrow Airport