CAA research: Disabled passengers still have air travel concerns despite good special assistance

Published on : Thursday, June 18, 2015

Civil Aviation Authority logoPeople with a disability or a reduced mobility are significantly less likely to have flown in the last 12 months, with many fearing things will go wrong – CAA research reveals.



In total just 39 per cent of people with a disability are classified as ‘recent flyers’, meaning they have taken a flight in the past year. This compares with 52 per cent of those without a disability.



However the research shows that 78 per cent of those who request in advance the special assistance they are entitled to, at airports and on airlines, are either ‘very satisfied’ (54 per cent) or ‘satisfied’ ( 24 per cent) with their air travel experience.



In addition the research also shows that those people with a disability, who are recent flyers, are as likely to fly multiple times per year, as non-PRM recent flyers.



Research identifies that one of the reasons for the disparity relates to concerns over access, including both physical and communication barriers, along with expectations that things could go wrong. However where recent flyers pre-notified airports and airlines and requested assistance, satisfaction levels are high with the services provided.



The findings are revealed in new consumer-focused research, which the CAA commissioned to understand more about people’s behaviours, needs and attitudes toward air travel.



Commenting on the research, Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said: “Where people with reduced mobility request special assistance in advance, they are often very satisfied with the service they get at airports and on board airlines and some, who fly multiple times a year, are clearly confident flyers.



“However there is a significant number of other disabled passengers, who have low expectations about air travel, and fear things will go wrong and the evidence shows this group are infrequent or non-flyers.



“Sadly it would appear one of the biggest barriers to flying is a lack of understanding and information about the specially tailored special assistance airports and airlines are legally obliged to provide, which enables people with a disability or reduced mobility – to go from departure to arrival with minimal fuss and ease.



“Our role as a consumer champion is to make sure everyone has fair access to air travel and the opportunity to have an enjoyable experience and we will be doing further work with industry to make this happen by promoting special assistance and improving consistency of the service available.”



Other research findings
• There is generally a high level of confidence in aviation safety and security standards.



• Consumers in general feel well informed and equipped to make air travel choices. However certain groups including PRMs, who have not recently flown and over 65s, are less well informed.



• The main reason for people flying either infrequently or deciding not to fly was ‘budget constraints’.



The research was conducted to inform the CAA’s evidence based approach to regulation and will be used to develop our work in the near future.



Last year the CAA used its information powers, introduced as part of the Civil Aviation Act 2012, to work with major airlines and airports to improve the quality of special assistance information available on their websites.



We asked 50 airlines and all UK airports to ensure this information was more comprehensive, clearer to understand and displayed just one click away from their website’s homepage. We also asked that websites include a helpline number, so passengers can pre-arrange special assistance and have information on how to complain.


Source:- Civil Aviation Authority

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