Daily Archives: April 17, 2012

Airport Disability Services in the UK

Persons with reduced mobility sign at airport

Passengers with disabilities in the United Kingdom are subject to the same frequent delays at airports as everyone else. The special requirements that folks with reduced mobility have though mean that they generally feel the delay a whole lot more.

Thankfully, many airports are making huge strides in the breadth and depth of disability services available to passengers, not just during delays, but as part of their regular operations as well.

Here’s a look around at some of the services offered to travellers with reduced mobility around the UK…

Passengers with special needs -- disability services waiting area

Luton Airport Disability Services

Luton airport offers the following amenities and services for travellers with disabilities:

  • A designated accessible door as an alternative to passengers not wishing to use revolving doors.
  • Complimentary porter’s assistance is available upon request by calling from the Special Assistance telephones situated throughout the terminal.
  • Complimentary wheelchairs are available from two separate designated areas.
  • Induction loops for the hearing impaired are located at both the customer service and special assistance desks.
  • Lowered, easily accessible payphones with inductive couplers for the hearing impaired and touch text facilities for the blind are located throughout the airport.
  • Accessible toilets in every washroom.
  • Assistance with specialized equipment to aid in both boarding and disembarking the aircraft.
  • Luton Airport Parking has designated disabled bays for Blue Disabled Badge holders as well as accessible bus service to the terminal.

Airport Assistance for passengers with disabilities -- woman in wheelchair

Gatwick Airport Disability Services

Gatwick airport includes access to an agency called Travel Care in their line-up of disability services. Other offerings include:

  • Induction loops for the hearing impaired are available – just look for the the ‘sympathetic ear’ symbol.
  • Special assistance help points offering free assistance for all those with a disability or mobility difficulties are situated throughout the terminal.
  • Reserved seating areas are available and are clearly marked by special disability services assistance signs in general seating areas.
  • Unisex accessible toilets are provided near most toilet facilities, while others are located inside the men’s or ladies rooms.
  • Disabled (blue badge) parking is easily found at car parking Gatwick.
  • The aforementioned Travel Care – an independent charitable organization — offers advice to all who may need extra help on their journey, and is available free of charge. They are located in the south terminal and can be reached by dialling +44 (0)1293 504 283.

Birmingham Airport Arrivals door

Birmingham Airport Disability Services

Birmingham Airport contracts their accessible service work out to a company called OCS. It appears that you may have to jump through a few more hoops (most notably arranging for assistance well beforehand) but here’s what you need to know:

  • For Wheelchair or Special Assistance for any part of your journey from arrival at the airport through to the aircraft or on your return journey, you need to contact your airline or tour operator at least 48 hours before departure or arrival and let them know the type of assistance you require.
  • Their direct helpdesk number is: +44 (0)121 767 7878
  • There are staff trained in sign language who can be contacted from the Special Assistance Reception Desk.
  • Induction Loop System and and mini-loop systems for hearing impaired passengers are installed in throughout the terminal.
  • Birmingham Airport Parking offers accessible parking spaces for Blue Badge holders.

While most airports can cater to passengers with special requirements at anytime, for assistance with anything not listed here, it’s best to contact the airline, your tour operator, or someone from the airport’s disability services department well in advance of your trip.

Carnival Cruise passenger rescued after jumping overboard

A Carnival Spirit passenger jumped overboard yesterday into the Pacific Ocean and was quickly rescued by the ship’s crew.

In a statement provided to Cruise Critic, Carnival said witnesses saw a 28-year-old man jumping off the ship as it steamed for Hawaii on the fourth day of a 15-night cruise. Search-and-rescue operations were initiated and the passenger was located and brought back on board, where he received treatment at Spirit’s medical center. 

Carnival’s CareTeam is providing support to the guest and his family, said the line. 

Cruise Critic readers on board the ship provided additional reporting of the dramatic rescue.

“Shortly after Captain Volpi announced we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and had passed the point of no return, the man jumped overboard,” wrote member cruisingcouple2008 on his Facebook page. “We immediately heard the BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO PORTSIDE alert and the ship came to a quick slowdown from 23 knots to about 4 knots. We turned around and the lifeboats were lowered. Within moments, the man was located and the quick work of the staff of the Spirit rescued the man alive.” 

More stories by Cruise Critic:

Smarks, who is also on board, said on the message boards that the man jumped from Spirit’s adults-only Serenity Deck. 

The majority of man overboard scenarios don’t end in a rescue — but it does happen. In February, fast-acting crew members rescued a crew member who jumped off of Carnival Magic. Last October, a man who jumped overboard from PO’s Ventura was pulled out of the water alive. More strangely, a Carnival Inspiration passenger who went overboard in June 2009 was rescued when he was found hugging a pilot marker in a shipping channel near Tampa. The man told authorities that he climbed up on a railing to get a better view of the pilot boat when he slipped and fell overboard. 

 Carnival Spirit is in the midst of a 15-day Hawaii cruise that departed San Diego on Friday and will return to San Diego on April 28.

More stories you might like:

Survey says: Van drivers reveal roadside favorites

Courtesy Atlas Van Lines

An Atlas van on the road.

Truckers, it’s often said, know the best places to eat on the road. It’s no surprise that they also have opinions on where to bunk down, where to fuel up on gas and coffee and even which antacid provides the quickest relief.

Those are among the results of the eighth annual King of the Road survey. Produced by the Atlas Van Lines moving company, the survey quantified the preferences of drivers who regularly spend 30 weeks on the road annually and collectively log close to 100 million miles per year.

Citing feedback from both short- and long-haul drivers, the results provide insights “from both the locals who know their towns best and the road warriors who spend more than half of their year on the road,” said Glen Dunkerson, chairman and CEO of Atlas World Group.

“For those of us with fewer miles on our odometers, maybe planning to take the occasional road trip or otherwise trying to make the best of a long drive, this insight can make for a more fun and enjoyable experience,” he said.

So if you’re starting to plan that summer road trip, here’s what the guys in the big rigs recommend:

Best hotel chain: When asked to name the most important factor(s) when choosing a hotel, respondents’ top three reasons were truck parking/access (duh!), price and quality. The winner: Super 8, followed by Days Inn and Best Western.

Best rest stops: When you gotta go, you gotta go. The survey doesn’t offer insights into specific attributes — Cleanliness? Number of stalls? Scenery? — but the top states for pit stops were Florida, Ohio and Texas.

Best coffee: Forget the venti half-caf macchiato with soy milk — these truckers run on Dunkin’. The chain, of course, also serves flavored and fancy coffee drinks but we suspect it’s good ol’ Joe that helped the company beat out the likes of Starbucks, McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s.

Favorite snack: With 57 percent of respondents saying that eating right was the biggest challenge of life on the road, it’s encouraging that the snacks cited most were fresh fruit and Planter’s Peanuts/mixed nuts. Then again, with the next three spots going to MMs, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Doritos, that challenge is apparently unconquered.

Best places to eat: The survey took a two-fold approach, asking drivers to name the “best restaurant in America” as well as their favorite fast-food restaurant. For the former, the Iron Skillet at Petro truck stops was ranked first, followed by a four-way tie for second (Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, Longhorn Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse) and Red Lobster in third.

As for the latter, Subway topped the list, which, like the fresh fruit cited above, suggests a nod to healthier dining. Alas, the rest of the list reads more like a heartburn hall of fame, with spots two through four going to Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Which, of course, begs the obvious question to which the answer is Tums, preferred by more than one-third of the respondents, followed by Rolaids, Pepcid and Zantac.

More from msnbc.com:

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

A Day out at Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-Water Cotswold Bridge on River Windrush

One of my favourite places to visit in the Cotswolds is the charming chocolate box village of Bourton-on-the-Water. A cottage holiday in the UK is the perfect opportunity to explore Bourton-on-the-Water and many other delightful villages in the region.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a picturesque village in Gloucestershire, in the heart of England. It is a large village with a stunning High Street built in traditional yellow limestone. The eye-catching buildings, wide grassy borders and several low stone bridges are the reason the village attracts so many visitors every year. The earliest bridge dates back to 1654 and the number of bridges crossing the River Windrush on its way to meet the River Thames has led to Bourton-on-the-Water being nicknamed the Venice of the Cotswolds. It has also has been voted one of the prettiest villages in England and lies in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The village is so beautifully kept; even a satellite dish on a house in the village has been painted the same colour as the brick work to disguise it. This attention to detail and how immaculately looked after the village is truly stunning.

Model Village Bourton-on-thw-Water

There are many quaint shops to enjoy on a day out to Bourton-on-the-Water, including a shop selling lovely china tea cups, charming gift shops and places to buy unique antiques. Last time I visited I even picked up a traditional a wicker basket.

A personal favourite of mine is the model village. This replica village is built to one ninth the size of the village including a model of the model village itself! Work began on the model village in the 1930’s and it opened in 1937 and it has been really well looked after and updated over the years. The accuracy and craftsmanship of the work on display is very impressive, all the shop fronts are kept up to date and there is even the sound of hymns being sung from the churches.

High Street Cotswolds Bourton on the Water

There are lots of tea shops serving a yummy cream tea, with sandwiches, scones and cakes and a pot of tea as well as a traditional fish and chip shop on the High Street where you can enjoy mouth-watering fish and chips in the sunshine on the picnic benches outside.

A holiday to the Cotswolds is the perfect opportunity to bring your four legged friends along too. A dog friendly cottage means that even the pets can come on holiday and enjoy a well earned break. Visit http://www.sykescottages.co.uk/ for a great selection.

Minnesota couple identified among Concordia bodies

NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reported in January on the search and rescue operation and the missing couple.


ROME — Two bodies recovered from the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship have been formally identified as Americans Barbara and Gerald Heil from Minnesota.

The bodies were among five that were recovered in the past three weeks from the liner, which capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio after hitting rocks on January 13.

At least 30 people died and two are still unaccounted for.

Costa Concordia captain’s blunders detailed in Vanity Fair

“Five bodies recovered from the Costa Concordia have been identified,” said a statement from the Grosseto prefecture on Tuesday.

The other three were named as Christina Matheson Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz, both Germans, and Giuseppe Girolamo, an Italian citizen and member of the crew.

A salvage operation to move the wreck, owned by Carnival Corp., is expected to begin next month.

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