East Midlands Airport receives top marks for assisted travel as busiest summer since 2019 takes off
In its annual assessment of assisted travel provision at UK airports, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has rated East Midlands Airport (EMA) as consistently “very good” throughout the last year - which is the highest standard.
The rating recognises the quality of the airport’s assisted travel provision and recent investment in services and equipment, which has improved the airport experience for those who need assistance when using EMA.
This is partly thanks to the airport's close working relationship with its accessibility forum - a diverse group of disabled people who advise the airport on matters including customer experience, training, monitoring and recruitment. All members are disabled, including the Chair. The group is an essential critical friend to the airport’s management team.
This has resulted in significant improvements including:
- disability equality training for customer-facing colleagues, delivered by disabled trainers
- upgrading vehicles and other equipment for disabled passengers
- introducing an assisted travel live chat service - a UK first for an airport
- new mobility scooters for use around the terminal
- an online interpreting service SignLive to provide Deaf customers with British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation when using and contacting the airport.
Busiest summer since 2019
The news comes on the eve of schools breaking up for the summer holidays, marking the start of EMA’s busiest weeks since 2019. During the school summer holidays, passenger numbers are forecast to rise to 95% of pre-Covid levels.
August will be the busiest month of the year, with 533,547 passengers expected. Over the entire ‘summer season’ (from April to the end of October), 3.17 million passengers will use the airport.
Mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearics continue to be the most popular destinations for EMA passengers. However, in a sign of growing popularity, the airlines that serve EMA are selling 300,000 seats to Greece and its islands this summer, which is an increase of 59% compared with 2019. This has resulted in new routes to Santorini (new this year) and Skiathos (a further addition since 2019).
The top 10 destinations this summer are:
- Alicante (Spain)
- Palma de Mallorca
- Faro (Portugal)
- Arrecife (Lanzarote)
- Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)
Steve Griffiths, EMA’s Managing Director, says: “We are delighted with the CAA’s rating of EMA’s accessibility. This is testament to all colleagues who are passionate about providing the best and most inclusive customer service to all airport passengers. To get such an excellent rating as we enter our busiest couple of months since 2019 makes it extra special.
“Seeing the terminal buzzing with excited holidaymakers is a welcome sight as the aviation sector makes important strides toward recovery following recent years of disruption and anxiety. We’re very excited to welcome hundreds of thousands of customers over the coming weeks as they embark on their summer holidays. Our focus, and that of our airline partners, is to continue to ensure that no one faces barriers to travel, and passengers have the best possible experience when flying through this airport.”
Given that many passengers using EMA this summer may not have flown for a while, the airport has issued top tips for how to make the airport experience as easy as possible.
- Airlines will advise how far in advance of flight departure times passengers should arrive. This is typically between 2-3 hours. There’s no need to turn up any earlier.
- 99% of passengers are clearing security well within 15 minutes. To make this process as easy as possible, please pack hand luggage sensibly. Ensure liquids don’t exceed 100ml and that they are removed and put in clear plastic bags. Electrical items such as iPads, laptops and game consoles should be taken out of bags and placed in the tray. Wear sensible clothing and footwear. Ensure pockets are empty and belts are removed.
- If travelling with young children aged 0-36 months, enough baby food, milk and sterilised water for the journey can be taken through security. Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml. Each container will need to be screened at the security point. Frozen breast milk can’t be taken in hand luggage.
- Empty water bottles can be filled once through security either at water fountains or at any bar or restaurant free of charge.
- For assistance (e.g. if long walking distances are a challenge) please inform your airline before flying.
Passengers looking forward to browsing shops and buying accessories for their holiday can do so once through security. Some of the top-selling products this summer include tanning oil, portable chargers, Apple earphones, Sol de Janeiro spray, skincare products, water bottles, and books.