The annual survey into the provision for disabled users at UK airports has revealed some shocking news. According to the survey, four of the 30 biggest airports are rated as poor access for disabled travellers.
Bottom of the list is Manchester. This is the second year in a row that Manchester has been heavily criticised for its lack of access for disabled travellers. There has been little improvement seen.
The Civil Aviation Authority, who organise the survey, has also stated that Birmingham and our nearest airport London Stansted need to improve their facilities.
One particular note was the lack of improvement at London Gatwick. This airport was criticised by a BBC journalist, and wheelchair user, Frank Gardner just last year. Mr Gardener, who is a security correspondent for the BBC said he was still waiting for help to disembark the plane when the cleaning crew turned up.
The same correspondent has also complained that London Heathrow has lost his wheelchair on more than one occasion and made him stay on a plane long after others have left. However, in this year’s report, Heathrow has now been recognised as offering good services.
Improvements Are Being Made
The report also stated that 10 more airports have upgraded their facilities so they are rated as ‘very good’. This takes the total number of airports now offering ‘very good’ support for disabled travellers to 16.
While this is a positive step forward, it isn’t great. It means that just under half of all airports aren’t offering the best assistance.
Most complaints about airports are long waiting times for assistance.
And the situation could get worse. Since 2010 there has been an 80% increase in requests for disability assistance at UK airports. If this rise continues and airports don’t adjust to the new demands, they will find themselves overwhelmed.
How Long Do We Have To Wait?
The rights for disabled passengers are clear. It is the same as for anyone else. So why are so many waiting for support to embark and disembark from planes? Even though there’s progress for disabled passengers, it’s clear there’s still so much more that can be done. We hope that it soon will be.