Key words: Accessibility, disability, in-equality, British Airways, EasyJet, airport and airlines.
Discussion: There are many different barriers when travelling with a disability or impairment such as hearing and sight, these can be proven quite worrying and challenging to many people which can result in them not travelling or postponing their trip. After, looking at people’s personal attitudes towards disability it was clear most people had a positive mind on disabilities. However, there were sources that there were also negative opinions towards disability as they perceive people with disabilities as ‘abnormal’ and ‘non-human’. There was a clear indication there is very little training and education relating to provision and service so this may mean the service and customer service skills towards the individual being limited. (Daruwalla, 2014). Although, this research was not relating to the accessibility policies by airlines, it gives a clear idea of people’s perceptions and views on disabilities and shows the tourism industry lacks training on how to deal with customers that have disabilities.
EasyJet’s policy is quite basic, they do not go into that much detail on many aspects. They do state EasyJet accommodates for nearly 450,000 passengers a year who require special assistance, which is growing each year. This is a good indication that EasyJet provide a high level of service, meet and exceed the passengers needs who require special assistance. ESAAG (EasyJet Special Assistance Advisory Group) which was formed in 2012 by EasyJet themselves, and is made up of experts in disability issues and accessible travel. They provide guidance and offer advice on the services they offer to the passengers that require special assistance.
Overall, EasyJet’s policy is a good policy and looks at ways to improve such as introducing the new aircraft with the improved toilet facilities and introducing the on-board wheelchairs to all aircraft on the new aircraft A320, with their main aim making EasyJet accessible to all. EasyJet could improve their policy by stating how they deal with certain disabilities and they could provide a link to a new page to explain in more detail what special assistance will be on offer for the type of disability.
After, looking into British Airways policy it was clear that there is a lot more detail than EasyJet. There policy explains what they can arrange for you depending on your needs and circumstances, there policy also explains how they will look after including things such as personal care during the flight, within the washroom, unfasten your seat beat or even retrieve and fit a life jacket in the case of an emergency. After British Airways have explained how they will help you, the go on to explain how to request the assistance, with further contact details on in case people need any more information, or they might just require to speak to someone to put their mind at rest before flying if they are nervous and stressed about what experience they might in counter.
The main positive thing about British Airways policy was they have section on all the most frequent disabilities such as wheelchair users, visual impairments, hearing impairments, hidden disability, people who require assistance dogs and seat support systems. For example, if a person required assistance with a hidden disability it will give them advice on how to deal with the airports, what to expect while in the airport such as quiet routes, and quiet spaces especially for those travelling with Autism. It also explains that they will provide a sunflower lanyard which is a UK airport authority designed idea, as a way of indicating if someone has a hidden disability so the airport staff will understand that they might need assistance.
However, a recommendation for British Airways policy could improve on is having images or videos of how they offer special assistance. This will give people a real insight into how they will provide extra assistance if needed. British Airways could also have options for users of the policy to change the font, colour of the pages or an option for the page to be read out loud through the devices speakers.
Concluding, both EasyJet and British Airways are noticing more and more passengers are wanting to travel even if they have a disability so their main aim is to make their airline accessible to all. It is said people with disabilities main issues when travelling is issues with access, transport difficulties such as limited room/space or issues with staff’s attitudes towards disabilities. British Airways and EasyJet are noticing this and providing staff training, improving with the aircraft and facilities. (Yates, 2017).
Airways, B., 2019. What assistance is available?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/disability-assistance/assistance-available
[Accessed 3rd May 2019].
Daruwalla, P., 2014. Annals of Tourism Research. Personal and Societal Attitudes to Disability, 1(1), pp. 1-39.
Yates, K., 2017. Understanding the experiences of mobility-disabled tourists. Understanding the experiences of mobility-disabled tourists, 1(2), pp. 2-39.