passengers at Heathrow now have access to on-demand, personalised
assistance via an app.
The Aira app, available free of charge, will connect passengers
directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through Heathrow and assist with finding specific locations –
including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news
affecting their journeys.
The app can be accessed by pre-loading
it on mobile phones and an agent will be available to provide
guided assistance on demand upon arrival at Heathrow.
Alternatively, passengers can also pre-book special assistance
through their airline and seek information on the app at the same
The number of passengers requesting special
assistance at Heathrow is rising by approximately 8% each year,
with over one million requests in 2017 alone – more than any other
Jonathan Coen, Director of Customer Relations
and Service at Heathrow said, “We are transforming the assistance service we
provide to our passengers and empowering them to be as independent
as possible when they are travelling through Heathrow. We have
already invested Ł23 million in an upgraded contract with our
special assistance partner, OmniServ, and introducing new
equipment, training and technology to help improve our service. Aira takes us one step further – and will deliver a better travel
experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise
feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their
journey via Heathrow.”
The suite of new
initiatives follows feedback by passengers and guidance from the
Heathrow Accessibility Advisory Group. Chaired by disability
rights advocate Roberto Castiglioni. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority
has acknowledged the steps Heathrow has made in improving its
service for people with disabilities, and restored the airport’s
ranking to a “good” following a “poor” rating last year.
Heathrow worked closely with the advocacy group
Guide Dogs for the blind, whose Engagement Officer, Clive Wood
said, “Guide Dogs are delighted to see the
introduction of the Aira app at Heathrow. Initiatives such as this
will be of great benefit to many blind and partially sighted
people who wish to travel independently. We certainly welcome the
proactive approach being taken by Heathrow Airport to introduce a
range of information and support to disabled passengers including
those with sight loss. We often hear from our clients that using
all forms of transport can be a stressful experience. This is why
we are working with Heathrow to help take the stress out of air
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