Best UK Airports for Disabled Travellers

As reports of the problems disabled air travellers face in airports hit the headlines the CAA survey identifies the top airports for disabled travellers in the UK.

Parkinson’s Sufferer crawls across floor

Parkinson’s UK the organisation for people with Parkinson’s disease has been reported as describing the way in which David Allan, 57, from Alloa was treated by the NHS, his airline and Heathrow airport as completely shocking and unacceptable.

Mr. Allan was due to fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh but his flight was delayed by 24 hours, and he ran out of his medication.

Despite his best efforts to stock up he was not able to do so.

At the airport he was pulled to one side by security staff for questioning, when he started to shake and  ended up having to crawl through airport security on his hands and knees.

Airports a problem for Disabled

This incident follows less than twelve months after Justin Levene a paraplegic athlete  was filmed dragging himself across the terminal floor at London Luton Airport because there was no suitable wheel-chair available.

Luton Airport Improves

London Luton Airport has now been assessed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as providing good services for disabled passengers.

The CAA annual survey now in its fourth year assesses services for disabled passengers at the 31 top airports in the United Kingdom.

Very Good Airports

Only one of the 31 airports surveyed, Manchester, was identified as needing to improve. Of the others 14, all regional airports were rated as very good

  • Aberdeen,
  • Belfast City,
  • City of Derry,
  • Cornwall Newquay,
  • Doncaster Sheffield,
  • Edinburgh,
  • Exeter,
  • Glasgow,
  • Glasgow Prestwick,
  • Humberside,
  • Kirkwall,
  • Norwich,
  • Southampton,
  • Sumburgh.

Being rated as very good means that an airport is providing high quality support on the day of travel and keeping in regular contact and consultation with its disabled users.

Good Airports

Sixteen of the other airports including all of the London international hub airports were rated as good

  • Belfast International,
  • Birmingham,
  • Bournemouth,
  • Bristol,
  • Cardiff,
  • East Midlands,
  • Inverness,
  • Leeds Bradford,
  • Liverpool,
  • London City,
  • London Gatwick,
  • London Heathrow,
  • London Luton,
  • London Southend,
  • London Stansted.
  • Newcastle.

Manchester needs to improve

Only Manchester was considered by the CAA as needing to improve.

More Disabled Travellers

Since 2010 the number of requests made by disabled travellers for assistance at UK airports has risen by over 80percent indicating that there are now 3.7 million air journeys made by disabled travellers from UK airports.

The report highlights the need for improvements across the board as increases in total passenger numbers, more self-service facilities, stricter airport security and shopping centre like conditions in departure lounges all making the airport experience more difficult for passengers with a disability or mobility challenges like parents with small children or babies and the elderly.

The Civil Aviation Authority has committed to work closely with airports to improve accessibility for disabled passengers.

Helping Airports to Improve

The CAA report is intended to help airports improve and maintain the highest standard of services for disabled travellers. 2019 is the first year since the CAA first started to conduct the assessments that no airports have been assessed as poor.

It is more difficult than you might think to maintain a good service for disabled travellers.

Four of the airports that were assessed as good this year have let their standards slip and so were not able to maintain last year’s very good rating.

Manchester Airport seems to have a long-standing problem with services for disabled passengers. Although they will be pleased to have been rated as requiring improvement after being rated as poor for the last two years.

The Civil Aviation Authority has been assured by Manchester Airport that it has a plan to address the issues of disabled access and expects to see an improvement in their rating next year.

Air Travel Getting Easier

The latest survey results says, Paul Smith, Consumers and Markets Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, “show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began.”

More Still to be Done!

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said that she is encouraged to see that almost all the main UK airports are rated highly, but there is much more to do.

Next year’s report will use the much stricter criteria that the UK Civil Aviation Authority in April of this year.

Airports are as a result going to have to up their game and do more to improve passenger experiences and create seamless travelling experiences.

Paul Smith committed the CAA to not hesitating when they uncover poor treatment of disabled passengers airports will be held to account.

The Full Report

Take a look at the full Airport accessibility report 2017/18