Assistance for disabled travellers using UK airports is at best patchy, and at worst nothing short of neglectful, says Which? Travel.
While the majority of Which? members are happy with the assistance they have experienced at airports*, around one in ten people surveyed were not. And the findings of an undercover investigation** by Which? Travel have revealed that when assistance fails, it can have a big impact on disabled passengers.
During the investigation, one blind passenger was abandoned by staff for an hour and a half, while another was separated from her guide dog at security. Both were concerned at the lack of care shown to their guide dogs; one was left without water, and the other wasn’t given a chance to go to the toilet before boarding the plane.
Both passengers were offered wheelchairs, despite being able to walk– while another passenger who did require a wheelchair said he was left waiting in the cold for a long time before being helped on to the plane.
Which? Travel members with disabilities have also reported “feeling humiliated”, being “abandoned like a piece of luggage” and feeling like they were “passed around like a parcel” while travelling through UK airports.
Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Travel, said:
“Although most disabled passengers are happy with the level of support they get at airports, when things go wrong, they go badly wrong, leaving passengers feeling distressed or humiliated.
“A few simple changes to processes and staff training could help airports ensure all passengers get the assistance they need.”
Which? Travel has reported its findings to all the airports involved. It has also contacted the Civil Aviation Authority asking how it proposes to ensure that all airports meet obligations set down by the EU regarding the provision of assistance to Persons of Reduced Mobility.