No one likes having to wait at the airport, the queue for the bag check, passport control, delayed flights, all of these can cause stress and anxiety, but these problems are often ten times worse for passengers who suffer from a disability. It was back in April when there were serious talks about how the travel industry could potentially improve air travel for disabled passengers. Including less damage/ loss to mobility products, shorter waiting times and easier transitions from arrival at the airport through to departure. And it now appears that things are well and truly moving in the right direction.
These debates were exacerbated when the BBC broke the news of their security correspondent Frank Gardener was stuck on a plane for almost two hours after his wheelchair had been lost by airport staff. The affects of which we reported on back in April. Further majorly reported incidents include Paralympian Justin Levene physically dragging himself across Luton airport as his wheelchair had been left behind and a man suffering from a long-standing spinal problewm was taken to hospital after collapsing only last month, when he was forced to stand for 30 minutes waiting for his pre-booked wheelchair to arrive.
These are only a miniscule number of high-profile incidents of wheelchairs going missing or getting damaged and there has been a call for change for quite some time. But how long could these changes take? Well some airports have already made a start to assist those with mobility difficulties. Gatwick are leading the way offering specialist lounges for those needing specialist assistance as well as accessible security lanes with trained staff who can respond to their specific needs.
A 16-week consultation is due to start this month to discuss the governments aviation strategy. This strategy has already been shown support by Airlines UK, who are an association which represents both major airlines, such as British Airways & Virgin Atlantic, budget airlines, such as Easy Jet and many others.
Hopefully soon everyone, everywhere will be able to fly anywhere in the world comfortably with true freedom.