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News & Features

CAA's Airport Accessibility Report 2018

Posted in General News on Friday, July 13th, 2018

According to the Civil Aviation Authority’s annual Airport Accessibility Report the standards of accessibility and assistance have improved at a number of airports since the previous report was published in 2017. The CAA classified 16 airports as ‘very good’ in this year’s report and Liverpool and Edinburgh were among the airports to receive this rating for the quality of their assistance services. The CAA has praised Liverpool airport for providing “an efficient and timely service” and according to the report 88% of the passengers that requested assistance at this airport in 2017 rated their experience as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

The CAA was also very pleased to report that Heathrow airport had made significant improvements to its assistance service since 2017 despite the criticism that the airport received from the BBC’s Frank Gardner for losing his wheelchair. Heathrow airport has invested £23 million to improve the quality of its assistance services over the past year and this has led to the airport improving its rating from the ‘poor’ it received in 2017 to ‘good’ this time around.

Some airports are still falling short in terms of accessibility and airport assistance. Four of the UK’s largest airports, Manchester, Birmingham, London Stansted and Gatwick have all been criticised in this year’s report for providing substandard assistance. Manchester was found to have some of the biggest problems and most of this airport’s issues stem from disabled passengers having to wait too long to receive assistance and difficulties keeping and publishing performance data. In certain cases disabled passengers at Manchester had been made to wait over an hour for assistance and the CAA said: “this was not an acceptable situation.” However, Manchester Airport has acknowledged the problems and implemented a performance improvement plan. Airports at Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham were all criticised by the CAA for not providing information about their service standards. The CAA’s report also raised concerns over delays to passengers' journeys when they arrive after inbound flights. In response to this report, the disability rights campaigner, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, commented: “The biggest complaint I get is inconsistency of service. You might fly out of an airport one week and get a great service, and it might be awful the next.” The CCA concluded its report in a more optimistic fashion saying: “The vast majority of passengers' journeys go smoothly and disabled passengers should have even more confidence to travel from UK airports."

View the full report

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Judith Bicknell's Gravatar
Judith Bicknell

Monday, July, 16th, 2018

I have, twice over the last two years, had problems at Heathrow , The people who help are very friendly but I don’t seem to go beyond the passport check with incoming passengers, and outgoing there were not enough staff to help those who needed help get to their gates. I am wheelchair-bound and generally self-sufficient but Heathrow is huge, and I had to wheel myself right through the airport to get to my gate, fortunately the flight was already a bit delayed so I wasn’t actually late boarding. However I did have to struggle through a lot of people just to get to my seat. And I had been advised to get there in plenty of time to be one of the first board so I wouldn’t be in the way. As to Gatwick, I have not had a problem, and Birmingham has usually been Ok.

Roger Braithwaite's Gravatar
Roger Braithwaite

Monday, July, 16th, 2018

My wife and I flew return to Canada on Air Canada and service out was good except on landing my wheelchair was taken to the luggage carousel and we had to wait for it to be delivered back to the aircraft so that we could then collect our luggage, this of course caused us to be late joining the rest of our group. On the return flight, after boarding I was told I would have to sit in a "standard" seat instead of a bulkhead seat which I was given on the outward flight. I was adamant that I would not be able to sit in such a seat as if my legs were forced in behind a seat I would not be able to move in any direction especially if there was an emergency. After many excuses that there were no seats available and causing other passengers to become annoyed a bulkhead seat was finally found. On looking around spare seats could be easily found. I was then told that I should pay extra for a bulkhead seat, as you can imagine I was not best pleased and I ignored the request which as they could see was only aggravating the situation. On disembarking we had to wait until all passengers had disembarked before I was allowed to get into my wheelchair. All this was not good for my wife and myself.


Tuesday, July, 17th, 2018

I have recently returned from a trip to Malaga on a jet 2 flight into Manchester. I have to say the staff on the plane were wonderful, the facilities at Manchester airport are the pitts. We had to wait 1 hour on the plane for the ocs team to arrive with the ambi lift then load the people who were incapable of using the steps time in total before we actually arrived in the airport terminal for customs was 1 and a half hours,by which time the rest of the people on our flight were on their way home. We arrived at customs check to be met by an influx of the passengers on a PIA flight who were astounded at the time it had taken us to get off our flight. Our baggage was left in a corner unattended and could have been taken by anyone but most importantly my wheelchair was just abandoned in the middle of the baggage collection area when we had specifically requested it be brought to the aircraft as usual because I have very specific needs due to a stiff right leg so a basic wheelchair is very uncomfortable. The facilities for disabled people at Manchester have fallen way below any standards we would expect from an international airport, the money they are spending on the general upgrade must be astounding but as second class citizens (again ) that's how we feel , we are obviously not important. I am so cross sometimes words fail me.

Mike Garside's Gravatar
Mike Garside

Tuesday, July, 17th, 2018

I go out of my way to avoid Heathrow. We travelled BA and T5 last year and they could not even provide someone to help push the wheelchair onto the plane. This was despite booking in in advance and on the day. They couldn't care at all about wheelchair users. I complained and got an investigation with the usual totally bland response. I don't believe the report. Stick to small regional airports Bristol is brilliant by comparison.

Dianne Lightfoot's Gravatar
Dianne Lightfoot

Tuesday, July, 17th, 2018

Flew from Gatwick (South Terminal) June 2018. Appeared very inefficient as "Helpers" appeared to be milling around with no instruction as to what to do. The Check In Desk person was not very helpful either as I needed a wheelchair to report to the Disability Desk. On our return the Captain and crew had to wait 20 minutes for 1 wheelchair to appear although 2 were needed. Apparently this happens regularly which is unacceptable. However Malaga Airport was magnificent (both ways) i.e. effective. efficient and extremely helpful. Suggest Gatwick Management visit Malaga Airport to see how superb their organisation is run.

Mrs Christine Fleming's Gravatar
Mrs Christine Fleming

Wednesday, July, 18th, 2018

Although a wheelchair user I have had to resort to using a powerchair and mobility scooter to move around. We use Manchester airport mostly since we live near it. Inconsistency of service is the name of the game there. Firstly it will be can you walk, my answer is only two or three steps. Ah right then you can walk onto the plane. No I cannot do that and so the conversation then becomes to put it mildly, rude. Or it can be quite helpful, and nothing is too much trouble. Returning to Manchester it is also never the same. Well did you have a carry on for the plane answer yes ; oh dear we have only brought a wheelchair we will bring the wheelchair onto the plane then you can walk from your seat to the wheelchair. If I am on the second row I will try but it's a struggle. If I am beyond the second there is no way I can do that. When you start providing wheelchairs for people who use them to get on the plane first it creates huge problems . I always have my blue badge with me to show them I do need help. The attitude of the staff varies a great deal. I am not sure how they are trained but in some situations they need retraining. On my last trip into Manchester I was asked why I couldn't walk as it would do me good to keep the joints moving. I am afraid my answer was not too complimentary. My last comment is regarding bringing your own wheelchair or in my case mobility scooter to the plane on arrival. Ah said the Wiseman we cant do that its too far. The chair goes on last and comes off first and it is the only airport that does not do it. But surprise surprise that happened once not so long ago and the handler said he had to do it now. So exactly what are the instructions to get your own mobility aid?

Penny Clark's Gravatar
Penny Clark

Monday, July, 23rd, 2018

I use Stansted regularly. I endeavour not to ask for assistance as I usually do not use a wheelchair, but the distance one has to walk to go to and from a plane is usually almost too far. My principal complaint is that of the 'forced' long walk through duty free. Previously , if one went to the concierge she would let me through a door straight into Departures. but now it is not allowed and I am forced to walk all the way through and into the too-crowded departure lounge where there is not enough seating. In the good old days there was a water fountain available - no longer with the new 'improved' departure lounge. This should be classed as an emergency.