East Midlands Airport has seen a 50% increase in assistance requests from passengers with a hidden disabilities during the recent busy summer period.
In line with this, passengers with dementia or autism have been encouraged to apply for a special package of measures in order to help them navigate the airport with more ease.
Some of these measures include;
- Try Before You Fly sessions – This gives passengers the opportunity to take a look at the airport’s facilities and layout before taking to the sky on their journey.
- A coloured lanyard – which is a discreet way of alerting trained staff to passengers who have a hidden disability and may require extra support.
Over the past 12 months, EMA has drastically improved the way passengers with hidden disabilities are supported. After being rated ‘poor’ in 2017 by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the airport has made major improvements, and their rating was subsequently elevated to ‘good’ in 2018.
Support for passengers with both hidden and physical disabilities is provided by the passenger services team, who are able to pre-determine how much or little support is required based on the nature of the disability.
EMA works in close contact with airlines to ensure the support service provided is coordinated throughout the journey through the airport and sky.
For passengers with more physical disabilities, EMA has certain facilities to help aid passengers. These include;
- Car parking in disabled bays
- Wheelchair accessible buses and specially trained drivers
- Accessible toilets, assistance lounges and a Changing Places Facility
- Bespoke transport for taking passengers to and from the aircraft
- Support with the whole check-in process, from offloading luggage through security and onwards to the departure gates.
Over recent months, more than 200 staff have participated in specialist training to help them better understand the needs of passengers with dementia. This means employees are better equipped to identify, handle and respond to passengers needs who suffer from hidden disabilities when in an airport environment.
Andy Tyler-Smith, East Midlands Airport’s Customer Services and Security Directors, says: “It would appear that passengers who require special assistance or have family members who do are increasingly confident about using East Midlands Airport. We pride ourselves in the level of support we offer those who require help. As a team we are now better able to identify behaviours which indicate that people are finding the airport experience difficult so that we can support them in the most appropriate way. It’s in everyone’s interest that passengers can get through the airport smoothly and without anxiety. Sadly, for some people, the thought of a flight or visiting an airport is a massive barrier to enjoying all that is wonderful about travel. We’re committed to making East Midlands Airport as stress-free as possible and we want to ensure that everyone’s experience is a happy one.”
Passengers who require assistance at the airport can book through their chosen airline in advance. Further information is also available on East Midland Airport’s website.