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…
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.
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 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.