ABTA is calling on disabled customers or anyone who may require assistance at the airport or on board their flight to let their travel agent, tour operator or airline know at least 48 hours before travel. Travel companies are happy to provide assistance and also have an obligation under the Persons with Reduced Mobility Regulations, but they have increasingly found that customers are reticent in expressing their need for help.
The PRM regulations came in 12 months ago on 26 July 2008 and placed an obligation on travel agents, tour operators and airlines within the European Union not to refuse a booking to any PRM and to ensure that air travel is fully accessible. However if advance notice is not provided, resources such as wheelchairs and airport staff may not be readily available often causing delay and inconvenience to customers. Whilst the level of pre-notification has increased over the past year it could improve further.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said “The PRMs regulations have been a great step forward in making air travel accessible to all. However we need our customers to let us know in good time if they need assistance. Many people can feel embarrassed about asking for help but then find they need it when they arrive at the airport and are faced with a long walk to the gate. The travel industry is more than happy to provide assistance and there is no shame in asking for it”
ABTA is also calling on the person making the booking to think about whether anyone in their party may require assistance and to make their travel company aware of their needs at the time of booking.