International recognition for East Midlands Airport’s assisted travel provision
East Midlands Airport (EMA) has received international recognition for passenger accessibility.
Last month EMA was voted Europe’s top performing airport at The Ozion Accessibility Awards, sandwiched between the winner, King Khalid International Airport in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain International Airport in third place. The awards celebrate airports that have made significant investment in the services they provide passengers who need assistance.
As well as increasing the size of its Assisted Travel team, this year EMA invested more than £500,000 renewing its fleet of ambulifts which are the vehicles that transport passengers in wheelchairs between the terminal and an aircraft. This has improved the customer experience as well as speeding up the time it takes to load and offload passengers.
The airport has also introduced new technology to help passengers who rely on the assisted travel service. Those with a smartphone can now scan a QR code (or enter a phone number) which automatically connects them to a member of the Assisted Travel team via WhatsApp – anywhere in the terminal.
Investment and changes to the service were made in conjunction with the airport’s Accessibility Forum – an independent body that represents the needs of customers and ensures best practice. The forum has been instrumental in shaping colleague training as well as recommending how money can be spent to achieve better outcomes for passengers.
Thanks to the changes made, the vast majority of customers who requested assistance with their travel spoke highly of the support they received. 91% of customers rated their experience as ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’ this summer.
Improvements to the service coincided with a return to international travel this year following two years of Covid restrictions and disruption. Between April and October, which are the airport’s busiest months for passenger flights, more than two million people flew through EMA.
Christopher Drury, Head of Customer Services, says: “We were delighted to be shortlisted for the award and very proud to be runner up to such a major airport in the Middle East. It is testament to the airport’s commitment to providing the best possible service to customers who need assistance with their travel and to the teams who support them. We have more to do to make the service even better as we want all passengers to have a comfortable and seamless experience as they pass through the airport.”
Plans for future investment at EMA to make it even more accessible include:
- sign language interpreting on demand
- refurbished accessible lavatories
- support for visually impaired passengers to help find their way through a pre-mapped space using smart phones.
- providing real time information about flights to Assisted Travel passengers.
To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities (2022) on Saturday 3 December, East Midlands Airport is lighting its air traffic control tower purple to help raise awareness of the cause which is to promote empowerment while helping create real opportunities for people with disabilities. This year’s theme is “transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.”