Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of a hidden disabilities scheme across its networks.
Offered to passengers at no extra cost, the scheme ensures the airline provides extra assistance to those who may need it without them having to ask.
Hidden disabilities may not be instantly recognisable, but can significantly impact a person’s life and often means that preparing for a flight can prove a stressful situation.
Currently around a fifth of the UK population has a disability.
One study found that of those who identified as having a disability, 74 per cent had a disability that is hidden.
Although not everyone with a disability flies this means many people may be travelling in discomfort or avoiding travelling due to the stress that flying may create.
A specially designed symbol, which can be worn as a pin badge or discretely tucked away in your passport as a bookmark, alerts extensively trained Virgin Atlantic staff that extra assistance may be needed by an individual, or their family, whilst travelling.
Prior to the flight taking place, the Virgin Atlantic special assistance team can also work with the individual to ensure that their journey is as accommodating as possible.
The team can arrange for travellers to be escorted through the airport, have access to priority boarding and reserve seating where necessary.
Onboard, the team can also ensure that in-flight entertainment is provided for blind passengers, with some crew also trained in sign language. (Sign language trained crew need to be pre-booked.)
Geraldine Lundy, passenger accessibility manager at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are committed to giving all customers easier access to travel.
“The hidden disabilities scheme is one of a series of initiatives that Virgin Atlantic is planning on introducing over the coming years, to help those with disabilities overcome any key challenges they may face. ”
The scheme is now available for all Virgin Atlantic customers.
Tom Morgan, from Channel 4 show The Undateables and sports ambassador for the National Autistic Society, recently travelled under the scheme and said: “Geraldine and her team go above and beyond to ensure that your flight experience is tailored to your specific needs.
“For instance, I asked if I could be sat at the back of the plane so that if I was to experience ticks on the flight, I wouldn’t disturb the passenger behind me.
“Virgin Atlantic easily accommodated my request, which made me much less nervous about the flying process.”
Find out more about his experiences in the video below: