Spe­cial as­sis­tance ser­vice is boosted at East Mid­lands

Hinckley Times - - NEWS -

EAST Mid­lands Air­port ex­pe­ri­enced a 50 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of re­quests for as­sis­tance from pas­sen­gers with hid­den dis­abil­i­ties dur­ing its busy sum­mer pe­riod this year.

Pas­sen­gers with autism or de­men­tia have been en­cour­aged to sign up to a spe­cial pack­age of mea­sures to help them nav­i­gate the air­port more eas­ily. These in­clude:

• Try Be­fore You Fly ses­sions – these give pas­sen­gers a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the air­port’s fa­cil­i­ties and lay­out prior to travel which can help re­duce lev­els of anx­i­ety. Ses­sions were over­sub­scribed dur­ing the sum­mer months

• A coloured lan­yard which sub­tly alerts staff to pas­sen­gers who have hid­den dis­abil­i­ties and who may need ex­tra sup­port.

The hus­tle and bus­tle of a busy air­port, com­bined with manda­tory se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures, can be a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for any pas­sen­ger. But, for peo­ple with ei­ther phys­i­cal or hid­den dis­abil­i­ties, places like air­ports can be a ma­jor bar­rier to en­joy­ing travel.

Over the last year EMA says it has made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the way it sup­ports pas­sen­gers with both re­duced mo­bil­ity and hid­den dis­abil­i­ties. This has re­sulted in the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA) up­grad­ing its rat­ing of these ser­vices from ’Poor’ in 2017 to ‘Good’ in 2018.

Sup­port for pas­sen­gers with phys­i­cal or hid­den dis­abil­i­ties at East Mid­lands Air­port is pro­vided by the pas­sen­ger ser­vices team. How much or lit­tle sup­port is pro­vided is de­ter­mined by the na­ture of the dis­abil­ity whether its sup­port­ing check­ing-in or even board­ing an air­craft.

EMA works closely with air­lines to en­sure that the ser­vice of­fered is co­or­di­nated and that pas­sen­gers who re­quire as­sis­tance are sup­ported through­out the flight too.

EMA also has the fa­cil­i­ties to en­sure that pas­sen­gers with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties have a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence at the air­port.

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, and sup­port with the whole check-in process, from of­fload­ing lug­gage through se­cu­rity and on­wards to the de­par­ture gates.

In re­cent months, more than 200 air­port staff have also un­der­gone spe­cial­ist train­ing to help them bet­ter un­der­stand the needs of pas­sen­gers with de­men­tia. Many em­ploy­ees are now bet­ter equipped to iden­tify, re­spond to and as­sist those with hid­den dis­abil­i­ties when they are con­fronted with an air­port en­vi­ron­ment.

Pas­sen­gers who re­quire as­sis­tance at the air­port can book this through their air­line in ad­vance of their flight. Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion is also avail­able on the air­port’s web­site at www. east­mid­land­sair­port.com/help/spe­cial-as­sis­tance/

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