If you or someone you’re travelling with has reduced mobility, a visual impairment, autism, or a disability – hidden or otherwise – get in touch by giving our specialist phone line a call. Our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Welfare team are on hand to help you find the holiday that’s right for you, answer your queries, provide general advice, and help you feel at ease about travelling. The number to call is +44 203 451 2585 if you’re in the UK, or +353 1 605 6500 from Ireland. The earlier you get in touch the more time it allows for us to get everything we can ready for you.
Getting to and through the airport can be stressful for everyone at times, but it can be even more challenging if you’re travelling with an adult or a child who has reduced mobility, or who is on the autism spectrum, for example. Autistic people can find a change of routine or unexpected circumstances difficult to digest, according to the National Autistic Society. Therefore, finding out as much as you can in advance, planning for different potential scenarios and leaving plenty of time can help to make the process easier. We can help by telling you what we know about the facilities at airports in the UK, so you can find the one that best suits your needs. We can arrange assistance at the airport on your behalf, too.
In 2016, London Gatwick Airport became the UK’s first nationally recognised autism-friendly airport. The airport’s committed to training their staff to be better equipped to assist autistic passengers, and has launched a discreet lanyard for hidden disabilities, which makes it easy for them to recognise these passengers as they travel through the airport. The airport also provides clear and accessible information about its facilities and the assistance available, so you know what to expect. We’re flying to 65 destinations from London Gatwick Airport in summer 2018. This includes popular short-haul places, like the Costa del Sol and long-haul hotspots like Jamaica.
In November 2017, some members of our cabin crew volunteered at a London Gatwick autism and accessibility awareness event. 30 families living with autism and other disabilities were invited to go through the motions of progressing through the airport, so they could experience what this is like in a stress-free environment and without a booking. The families experienced checking in and going through security and passport control, and children were encouraged to bring a pretend ID and a favourite toy, so that they could be issued with “boarding cards”.
If you’re travelling with someone on the autism spectrum, it could help to tell them as much as you can about the plane and the experience of flying in general. Visual supports, like photos and plans, can be helpful in setting the scene for what it’s like to be on an aircraft. And we can provide you with pictures of the aircraft to help you do this – just ask us.
If you have reduced mobility, autism or a disability, we can also allocate you a specific seat in whichever part of the aircraft you think will be most comfortable and convenient for you. We’ll do this free of charge and you’ll be able to have a companion or carer join you, too. Please note that this only applies to our standard or welfare seats, and is subject to availability and safety restrictions.
We can also organise for you to be one of the first to board the plane, so you have more time to find your bearings and get settled in your seat. And if you need to travel with medication or any medical equipment, we can increase your luggage allowance, both in the cabin and the aircraft hold.
If you or someone you’re travelling with has reduced mobility, or needs some extra assistance, we can put on a special transfer for you when you arrive in resort. We’re also currently surveying a selection of our hotels to review what they offer in terms of accessibility – stay tuned, we’re hoping to have this information ready in 2018.
Ready to start planning your holiday?
Give the Customer Welfare team a call on +44 203 451 2585 from the UK or +353 1 605 6500 from Ireland. We’ve also answered some frequently asked questions about travelling with autism or a learning disability and travelling with a personal assistant.
Author: Sarah Robinson
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The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad.
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