British Airways said to be disappointed that London Heathrow airport assistance service has fallen short of BA customers' expectations.
A recent spate of complaints filed by disabled passengers using Heathrow airport assistance services has triggered concerned reactions.
"I am extremely concerned to hear of the cases of poor treatment and sometimes blatant discrimination revealed by Reduced Mobility Rights. They very much reinforce the recent reports from Channel 4 News and the Muscular Dystrophy campaign,” Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said after reading recent passengers' complaints. “I would advise anyone who feels they have been badly treated to not hesitate to take up the complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority. I will also be asking for briefings on the steps that both BAA and CAA intend to take to address this series of complaints about poor access."
While complaints refer to assistance services in all London Heathrow terminals, the majority of reports concern Heathrow Terminal 5, home of British Airways.
"The experience with assistance at Heathrow was particularly galling given the excellent service we experienced at Cairo and during internal flights with Egypt Air to Luxor and Aswan. If the Egyptians can do this right with far fewer resources, it is hard to understand why we had such awful experiences at British Airways' flagship terminal." Passenger Michael Turner told Reduced Mobility Rights last Friday. "Needless to say, we will definitely think twice before travelling through Terminal 5 again, and while I appreciate that the special assistance is operated under contract through BAA, this obviously means we are less likely to travel with BA."
"At British Airways we take the feedback of our customers very seriously and we are disappointed that the assistance service has fallen short of our customers' expectations," a spokesperson for the airline told Reduced Mobility Rights on Tuesday. “Assistance services for all airlines at Heathrow are provided by the airport authority [BAA]. We work closely with other airlines to lobby the airport to provide a better quality of service for customers with reduced mobility."
British Airways sees the action of the London Assembly Transport Committee as a step forward. "We hope that all parties can work together to improve the experience of air travellers with reduced mobility," the airline said.
While BA has no direct control over assistance services BAA provides, the airline says to stay focused on providing disabled passengers the best assistance.
"We encourage all our customers to advise us of their needs before travel so that we can liaise with the airport authority to ensure that these needs are met," British Airways said. “We carry more than 800,000 people with disabilities each year and we work hard to provide help and assistance throughout the whole journey, from the point of booking to the final arrival. We work very closely with our customers with disabilities to help us identify what we do well and what we could do to improve our service levels further."
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