In particular, the CAA praised Southampton Airport for providing a pre-travel advice and tips information booklet which includes a detailed section on travelling with hidden disabilities. This information booklet was developed in partnership with disability organisations to help guide passengers through the process of travelling to and from Southampton Airport.
The CAA also advised other UK airports to follow Southampton’s initiative of using their special assistance “helping hands” symbol to assist passengers with identifying a quiet route through security and into the departure lounge. Introduced in 2017, the “quiet route” is available for passengers with sensory impairments or sensory processing issues, for whom the terminal environment can sometimes be disorienting and stressful.
Hazel Screech, Customer Experience Manager for Southampton Airport, emphasised on the airport’s commitment to provide the best service for all their passengers including the ones that require special assistance. She said: “Southampton Airport have worked extremely hard to improve its services for passengers travelling with hidden disabilities and we are very pleased to have received recognition from the CAA for examples of best practice within their recent report. Through working in partnership with disability organisations we’ve been able to enhance team’s disability awareness training, pre-information and facilities to improve our service provision for passengers with hidden disabilities.”
Only last year more than 14,800 passengers with physical and hidden disabilities requested an assistance while travelling through the airport, with 89% pre-booking special services.
Southampton Airport closely works with disability organisations, such as StomaWise, National Autistic Society, Guide dogs, Action on Hearing Loss, Chrohns and Colitis UK and Dementia Friends. Apart from introducing “Helping Hands” lanyards and installing portable hearing loops, the airport provides frequent equality and disability awareness trainings for its frontline team.