Heathrow has opened its doors to let persons with disabilities learn more about the assistance options available at each stage of their journeys, and to listen to their feedback on how to further improve services available to passengers who require support.
This event coincided with the launch of the Civil Aviation Authority’s annual report on accessibility at UK airports, which has restored Heathrow’s ranking to ‘good’ following a ‘poor’ rating last year.
The new ranking follows a year of rapid changes for the airport which saw the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG) established, £23 million invested in new equipment, resources and technology, and innovations like a distinctive lanyard for passengers with hidden disabilities introduced.
Part of a series of activities to promote accessible air travel, the Heathrow Open Day was 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.
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.
HAAG Chair Roberto Castiglioni
The event provided a general introduction to air travel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, while following open days 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.Throughout 2017, Heathrow welcomed around 1.25 million passengers with reduced mobility – the most of any airport in the UK – as well as many passengers with hidden disabilities.
The airport is on a journey with its special assistance programme and continues to look at ways to empower passengers to be as independent as possible when travelling. Dates and details of all Heathrow Open Days are available on the HAAG’s website.