ABTA and the CAA today launched new guidelines (Pre-Notification Guidance - for Supporting Passengers with Reduced Mobility), for the travel industry to help deliver a smooth airport experience for people with reduced mobility. The guidelines were drafted by the CAA in conjunction with ABTA and developed by an industry group *. They aim to give information and advice for travel companies and airports on how to provide the optimal experience for passengers who require assistance at the airport.
Under European law (Regulation 1107/2006), all passengers who are disabled or have difficulty moving around can receive assistance when they fly, free of charge. The number of disabled and persons with reduced mobility (PRM) passengers who are pre-booking assistance has increased since the implementation of the legislation in 2008. However, the levels continue to vary significantly across airlines and on specific flight routes. There are also problems with the accuracy of the information that is collected and transferred and this impacts on the airports’ ability to plan resources accordingly.
The document is intended to supplement the Department for Transport’s 2008 Code of Practice detailing the requirements of the legislation on providing assistance to disabled persons and PRMs by offering practical guidance based on experience. The key focus is pre-notification. Pre-notification is essential to help ensure the airports put the right resources in place at the right time to provide assistance to PRMs. The guidelines cover what should happen during the booking process, after the booking has been made and at the airport. They include the IATA codes commonly used to transmit information about the specific assistance required.
Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA said: “Delivering a good travel experience to all customers is a key priority for our Members. It can be deeply distressing for passengers to arrive at the airport and not have access to the assistance they require. By working together we have been able to develop practical guidelines that will help ensure a smooth and seamless experience for passengers with reduced mobility, from collecting the right information at booking to ensuring the resources are in place when they arrive at the airport.”
Sandra Webber, CAA Director of Consumer Support, said: “Travelling if you have restricted mobility can be especially challenging and stressful without good planning and effective processes from airlines and agents. The CAA believes that pre-notification is the key to airports and airlines providing PRMs with the assistance that best suits their needs. We think that this guidance will help travel companies and airports in ensuring that PRMs pre-notify their assistance needs to their travel company or airline, with a view to helping to ensure the airports provide appropriate assistance. But if PRMs find that they are not receiving their rights, they can contact the CAA who will look into the problems and may take up their complaints with the airline or airport concerned.”
*The group includes ABTA, the CAA, the Department for Transport, the Equality & Human Rights Commission and representatives from airlines, airports, travel agents, tour operators, PRM service providers and an independent disability representative.