British Airways has announced a new three-year partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, a charity that works with people living with and affected by dementia. The charity provides expert support services, ground-breaking research discoveries and leading campaigns to make dementia a priority – and is the only UK charity to cover all three areas.
In addition to raising vital funds that will support life-changing services and ground-breaking research for people with dementia, the new partnership will also see the airline working closely with Alzheimer’s Society on a number of initiatives. These include bespoke customer service dementia training for customer-facing colleagues and the uptake of Dementia Friends across the organisation, an initiative that will help British Airways colleagues learn how to better support customers, family and friends affected by the condition. As the partnership progresses, British Airways will also review and implement changes internally to work towards making the airline even more dementia-aware.
Alzheimer’s Society has become a beneficiary of the airline’s BA Better World Community Fund, which marks its commitment to investing in communities across its network, providing life-changing opportunities and generating more positive impact to help those who need it most. Since its launch in April 2022, the BA Better World Community Fund has raised more than £3.4 million and now supports more than 170 charities across the UK.
For someone living with dementia, travel can seem like an impossible challenge. Symptoms including disorientation, memory loss and difficulties in planning can cause people with dementia to lose track of their surroundings and get lost, even in familiar places, and feel unsafe or uncertain of finding assistance if they need it.
British Airways customers Maggie and Rashmi Paun have always been keen travellers, and since retiring have enjoyed a seven-month round-the-world trip together. However, since Rashmi was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, their travel plans have had to change slightly to more familiar destinations. Maggie said: “I think it’s great that BA is partnering with Alzheimer’s Society through the BA Better World Community Fund. More and more people have dementia, and the fact is that people like us would still like to travel as much as we used to do.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “I’m delighted to announce this partnership between British Airways and Alzheimer’s Society. This is a subject very close to my heart and many of us have experienced a loved one living with dementia and know the added anxiety that travel can bring. Through this partnership, we continue our commitment to make travel accessible for everyone while raising awareness and funds for the vital work this fantastic charity does.”
Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO, said: “The urgency to meet the challenge posed by dementia is greater than ever and we are delighted to be working with British Airways to help improve the travel experience for people affected by the condition. We’re looking forward to being part of the journey.”
More than half a million customers who require additional assistance fly with British Airways each year, and the airline is working hard to ensure people affected by dementia feel more confident when they travel. British Airways aims to become the airline of choice for customers with visible and non-visible disabilities through equipping colleagues with the training and knowledge they need to support customers that require additional assistance and provide a seamless travel experience. One in three people born in the UK today will go on to develop dementia and there are currently 900,000 living with the condition.
British Airways has invested in a range of services to support customers with accessibility requirements and has a dedicated accessibility team to provide specialist support for anyone who needs it. The airline offers assistance with mobility requirements, sensory disabilities such as vision loss or deafness, as well as neurodiverse conditions such as autism. The airline also has dedicated check-in areas at London Heathrow and London Gatwick for customers requiring additional assistance and its colleagues are provided with specialist training to understand what a non-visible disability is and how to best approach and support customers. More information on how to request assistance when travelling can be found at www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/disability-assistance.
Those wishing to make a donation to Alzheimer’s Society can do so via the BA Better World Community Fund at www.bacommunityfund.co.uk/alzheimerssociety. British Airways Executive Club Members can also choose to make a donation using their Avios. When Avios are donated to a project supported by the Community Fund, British Airways Executive Club will donate the equivalent value of the Avios in pounds to the chosen project, up to a total of £100,000. More information and T&Cs can be found at www.bacommunityfund.co.uk/avios.
Until 31 October 2023, each donation of £1 or 125 Avios to Alzheimer’s Society through British Airways’ BA Better World Community Fund will enter a Prize Draw for the chance to win a holiday of a lifetime to Dubai, including return flights in Club World and five nights’ accommodation (T&Cs apply). Donations to Alzheimer’s Society, and full details of the Prize Draw, can be found through the BA Better World Community Fund website at www.bacommunityfund.co.uk/dubai-holiday.