- British Airways is celebrating customers on International Day of Persons with Disabilities with cabin upgrades and lounge access
- More than half a million customers with disabilities travel with the airline each year
- Airline is working with charity groups to raise awareness and understanding of hidden and visible disabilities
To celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, British Airways surprised some of the 50,000 customers with disabilities who fly with the airline every month, with upgrades and lounge invitations, to get their trip off to a first-class start.
The airline welcomes 1,500 to 2,000 customers who require additional assistance at its hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 every day.
Following a series of improvements across all stages of their journey, from booking to arrival at their destination, the airline has seen a significant increase in customer satisfaction and will be announcing more enhancements in 2019, during the airline’s Centenary year.
During 2018, the airline launched its ‘Beyond Accessibility’ campaign – it’s biggest ever staff training programme – to provide guidance for customer service hosts to help them ensure a relaxed and stress-free trip for customers with disabilities.
The programme – which has been developed in conjunction with specialist charity groups, including the National Autistic Society – focuses firstly on how to help customers with hidden disabilities including autism, dementia, mental health problems, hearing loss and visual impairment.
Around 600 customers with autism travel with British Airways every month and the airline has been working closely with the National Autistic Society to increase colleague awareness and help customers with autism prepare for their journey.
Daniel Cadey, the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Development Manager, said: “Our charity knows that the sensory overload and unfamiliar environment of an airport and plane can make travel incredibly challenging for autistic children and adults, so we were very pleased to work with British Airways to train their staff. Alongside other help, like putting clear information designed for autistic people online.”
“The changes that British Airways has introduced means that autistic people and their families can approach taking a holiday or flying for work with confidence that they will be understood and properly supported.”
The airline has also worked with Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) to create a video for customers travelling with powered wheelchairs, which will be launched early next year on QEF’s website, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Head of Customer Experience, said: “At British Airways we are committed to providing an easy, simple and seamless travel experience for all our customers, including those travelling with a visible or hidden disability.”
“We work closely with specialist charity groups and our customer advisory group, which provide us with really valuable feedback on how we can continue to improve the services we provide to customers with accessibility needs. As British Airways looks forward to its Centenary year, we are committed to investing in our customers at every stage of their journey.”