Emirates’ & British Airways’ Accessible Travel

by Claudia Mok

Recently British Airways (BA) celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day, whilst demonstrating their support to people with impairments, disability, and/or mobility issues. Let us look at how airports and airliners, such as BA and Emirates help people who are in need.

A Service Accessible to All

The entire journey from check-in through to boarding can be exhaustive, especially if there is an entire stretch of space in between. Take BA’s Heathrow Airport for instance that is 1,227 hectares big, making it the UK’s largest airport, or Emirates’ base which is Dubai International Airport, spanning 5,600,000 square feet, making it one of the biggest airports in the world – made worse by the mass of people hurrying to and from terminals and the essence that is time. But this is especially difficult for people who have impairments, reduced mobility, or a disability, for such a journey can be impossible without assistance. However, many airlines and airports have recognised this issue and have sought to alleviate their passengers’ predicament.

For instance, airports and airliners in the UK must comply with UK Civil Aviation Authority which state that all passengers travelling by air in the EU are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’. And that your right to special assistance is stipulated in EU law and applies when:

  • You fly on any airline from an EU airport
  • You fly on an EU registered airline to an EU airport

British Airways (BA) have done just that for they promise to provide a service that is ‘‘accessible to all’’; one that is tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances. For instance: by aiding and escorting passengers to and from the aircraft, help with stairs, and/or providing transport for wheelchairs and mobility aids (in accordance with CAA’s regulations). Their dedication has led them to be recognised as part of the Valuable500, an award for businesses who advocate for disabilities and inclusion. The same assistance applies to Emirates.

Special assistance for wheelchair access

[Special Assistance] | © [British Airways]

Passengers who want special assistance should aim to give their airline at least 48 hours’ notice of the help they require. This can be done by logging into your booking (BA) and or contacting the airline direct (Emirates).

From thereon, the airline will arrange a personal assistant to take you through from check-in to boarding and will meet you again for connections and/or arrivals with priority boarding for the passenger in focus and carer/s.

Dubai’s Dedication

Although both Heathrow and Dubai International Airport are large in size, the latter provides electric cart services to passengers needing to travel from site to site within the airport. Such transport bypasses the plethora of people as well as saving time. What makes Dubai Airport especially unique is how it offers dedicated lounges for people who require assistance. As stated on their website: ‘‘Disabled passengers and those requiring special assistance at Dubai Airport can access dedicated lounges near gates 9 and 22. A dedicated lounge at Dubai Airport for disabled travellers is also available in the Arrivals Hall and assistance is available for those with special needs as well as unaccompanied minors.’’ From personal experience, an assistant will guide the passenger/s to the designated lounge – one that is often spacious and quiet, enabling people to rest and relax until it is time for boarding.

Dubai Electric Cart

Dedicated lounges similar to image

Dedicated lounges similar to image

Back in November 2019, Emirates hosted the IATA’s inaugural Global Accessibility Symposium in Dubai. Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates expressed that: “It is apt for the first IATA symposium on this important issue to be held in Dubai, as it’s the city’s aim to become one of the world’s most accessible cities for People of Determination and Emirates is proud to play a role to help advance this dialogue” – especially given their range of special assistance services at Emirates’ base: Dubai International Airport.

Taken together, both BA, Emirates and their airports are determined to provide universal access to all their passengers, for they recognise and respond to the needs of their passengers, in turn, leading them to receive special recognition for their special assistance.

Are these the two best airlines for special assistance? Let us know in the comments below.

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