London Heathrow: BAA Promises Better Services for Disabled Passengers
- Written by Roberto Castiglioni
Mark Hicks, PRM manager and member of the BAA Heathrow PRM Charges Governance Group, promises better services for disabled passengers using Heathrow airport.
On Monday, Reduced Mobility Rights attended a meeting with BAA, CAA, OmniServ, Menzies Aviation and a representative from a European airline. BAA called the meeting to discuss a recent PRM service failure occurred at Heathrow Terminal 1.
Mr Hicks said he has taken note of Reduced Mobility Rights remarks about the Heathrow’s website. “I promise we will introduce changes to make our special assistance page more user friendly,” he said.
Changes will include the addition of a direct link from the special assistance page to the contact form, which can be used to praise, share concerns or complain about the quality of service. Direct contact information will be added, allowing users to contact the PRM service provider directly.
Reduced Mobility Rights welcomes the announcement. We took the opportunity to once again stress the need to ensure customers can access user friendly and detailed information with ease.
John Henderson, general manager for Menzies Aviation at London Heathrow said the baggage handler is also undergoing changes to improve the quality of service.
“We want to have a new approach to customers,” he said. “The ‘we don’t do it’ approach is being replaced by we do our utmost to service customers while ensuring the safety of our employees”.
Menzies Aviation suspended deliveries at the aircraft doors after one of their employees suffered serious injuries falling from an access stair to a mobile gate while carrying an infant buggy.
In October 2010 the company reviewed its policy in a less restrictive way. However, full implementation of new procedures is still under way.
Menzies Aviation will now provide delivery service of regular buggies and strollers weighing less than 5 kilograms. This service will be available at newer gates at Terminal 1, the ones featuring elevators to reach the cargo loading areas. Delivery of special equipment such as mobility devices and wheelchairs will be available at all gates. However, passengers arriving at older gates may experience delays of up to half hour to receive delivery of their mobility equipment.
A third matter for discussion was the communication flow between airlines and service providers. Reduced Mobility Rights brought attention to the need to identify when special assistance is requested for children. There are in excess of 770.000 disabled children in the United Kingdom.
Ernie Patterson, OmniServ chairman, stressed the importance to have this information well ahead of time. Currently airlines communicate with OmniServ in different ways. In absence of common standards, prompt communication of relevant details such as the age of the passenger requesting assistance is of paramount importance to ensure the PRM service provider can deliver the correct service. Currently children cannot be carried on adults’ wheelchairs because of liability and insurance issues.
David Kendrick. Manager of Airline Licensing & Consumer Issues for the UK Civil Aviation Authority will oversee that a better system of communication of relevant information is put in place to provide people with special needs and their carers the best possible travel experience.