Airport review rates facilities for disabled travellers

August 8, 2017

Heathrow Airport has been rated poor for disabled travellers in a report from the UK’s aviation regulator.

BBC News reported that Manchester, East Midlands and Exeter airports also received the low rating from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but 26 airports were given a good or very good rating.

The CAA highlighted a survey of about 1,200 passengers requiring assistance at Heathrow, where 62 per cent rated the service poor or very poor.

The regulator said: “There have been instances of unacceptable levels of customer service where passengers’ needs have not been met and, in some instances, where passengers have not been treated with dignity and respect.

“Substantive issues still exist with the quality of the assistance service provided at Heathrow.”

The regulator admitted Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, had “certain challenges” like long walking distances.

But journeys for passengers with mobility issues would often take “significantly longer”, and the airport’s contractor Omniserv “encouraged passengers to make their own way through the airport because of a lack of staff or equipment”.

A spokeswoman for Omniserv said the company is “investing significant sums in staff training” and will “continue evaluating our performance… to provide the best service to all of Heathrow’s passengers”.

Heathrow said it was “extremely disappointed” by the CAA’s findings and apologised to customers affected.

The CAA said the other airports rated poor – East Midlands, Manchester and Exeter – had not consulted disability organisations, or set up focus groups to receive feedback from service users.

Although four airports were rated poor, the aviation regulator was encouraged to see a 66 per cent increase in the number of travellers requiring assistance since 2010.

In 2016 three million passengers with mobility issues flew through British airports and CAA consumers director Richard Moriarty said: “UK aviation should be proud that it continues to serve a rapid increase in the number of passengers with a disability.”

Birmingham, Glasgow and Glasgow Prestwick, Humberside, Inverness and Norwich airports were all rated very good.

The airports rated good were: Aberdeen, Belfast City, Belfast International, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, City of Derry, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London City, Gatwick, Luton, Southend, Stansted, Newcastle, Newquay, Southampton and Sumburgh.