Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Eight major UK airports provided an “unacceptable” level of service to disabled people in 2022

A number of airports across the UK have provided an “unacceptable” level of service to disabled passengers this year, according to a report by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The CAA assessed 16 of the UK’s largest airports over a seven-month period between 1 April and 31 October 2022, and ranked eight airports as ‘poor’ in the early months of the reporting period.

This was mainly because passengers with reduced mobility were waiting for unacceptably long periods for assistance on arrival.

Only six airports ranked as “very good” during entire review period

The regulator then wrote to the airports informing them that the experience passengers received was “unacceptable”, and put guidance and actions plans in place to encourage airports to make assistance services more “passenger focused and effective”.

Several airports saw a marked improvement, but London Luton was ranked as the worst-performing airport after failing to make significant improvements and reach performance targets.

Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester are now all ranked as “good” or “very good”, but Bristol, Leeds Bradford and London Heathrow are still deemed as needing improvement, and London Luton airport continues to be ranked as poor.

Only Aberdeen, Belfast International, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London City were rated as ‘very good’ for the whole period under review. Liverpool and Newcastle were rated as a mixture of “good” and “very good” across the period.

The regulator’s report has praised those achieving a ‘very good’ rating and commended in particular East Midlands and Liverpool airports for introducing schemes which allow for personalisation of the assistance journey – for example requesting assistance only at certain required stages of travel.

CAA wants to see “immediate further improvements”

Paul Smith, Director of Consumers at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The aviation industry has faced unprecedented challenges, but too many passengers at UK airports have been waiting for unacceptable amounts of time for assistance on arriving flights on too many occasions.

“We strongly believe that everyone should have access to air travel, and we welcome the substantial improvements that airports have made for disabled and less mobile passengers.

“We will continue to consider whether we need to take further action where airports are not delivering an acceptable level of performance, and not showing sufficient and sustained improvements. We want to see immediate further improvements, as well as airports being well prepared to provide a high-quality service during next year.”

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