Yesterday, members of Whizz-Kidz and other charities supporting young disabled and mobility impaired people, toured the airport to experience Heathrow’s service first-hand and to give advice on how to make all passengers’ journeys more comfortable and accessible.
Held as part of Disabled Access Day, the tour was organised by Heathrow together with Virgin Airways and Omniserv, and along with Whizz-Kidz hosted members of Guide dogs for the blind, Runnymede Access Liaison Group, Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership, Leonard Cheshire and the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation. This event formed part of the Whizz-Kidz’s #GetOnBoard campaign, which is pushing for a more inclusive transport system.
The tour’s aim was to enable people with a disability to better understand what assistance they can receive while flying from Heathrow and for them to see it as an enjoyable part of the journey, rather than another hurdle to overcome. Attendees were escorted in small groups around the airport, tracing the steps of both departing and arriving passengers with stops at check-in, security, baggage reclaim and boarding.
Participants were given practical advice to follow when flying out of Heathrow, including:
- Assistance for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility is free – please contact your airlines least 48 hours ahead so airport staff can be ready to assist you
- Use the special assistance areas and teams to get help checking in, through and after security for help boarding
- If stranded, call Heathrow staff from one of the help points around the airport
- Ensure assistance dogs have a valid pet passport and booking for their flight
Paul Stonehouse, Special Assistance Services Manager at Heathrow said:
'Heathrow’s vision is to make every journey better, for every single passenger. We believe everyone should be able to fly, and together with partners like Whizz Kidz, we will help those who need more assistance get where they’d like to go. This weekend’s event was aimed at making the people who took part in it more comfortable with travelling through Heathrow, and to get them to feel excited about flying, but it has also given us valuable feedback to help us achieve our mission of delivering the best passenger service in the world.'
Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz, Ruth Owen OBE, said:
'We are delighted that Heathrow is marking Disabled Access Day by showcasing accessibility at its Terminals, which makes travelling abroad less of an ordeal for our young wheelchair users and their families.
'Whizz-Kidz’s partnership with Heathrow Airport, one of the founding members of the Accessible Travel Alliance, demonstrates that organisations across all sectors can come together and campaign for better accessible transport for disabled people. We are delighted they joined our campaign, Get on Board!'
You can get involved with the Get on Board campaign and pledge your support for inclusive travel by visiting: www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/getonboard
Those with reduced mobility who require special assistance should contact Heathrow via the passenger phone line 0844 335 1801 (if you use a text phone call: 0844 571 7410) or tweet the airport at @HeathrowAirport