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Wheelchair users in UK airports. (merged threads)

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Wheelchair users in UK airports. (merged threads)

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Old 25th Mar 2018, 21:23
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Wheelchair users in UK airports. (merged threads)

Their just might be some changes:
BBC’s Frank Gardner wins Heathrow pledge for disabled passengers after ‘lost’ wheelchair

Heathrow will improve its assistance for disabled passengers after the BBC journalist Frank Gardner was kept waiting for nearly two hours on a plane when staff “lost” his wheelchair.

Mr Gardner held a “constructive” meeting with John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, on Sunday, in which they discussed measures to improve the “casual disregard’” with which the BBC correspondent said the airport habitually treats disabled passengers.
https://inews.co.uk/news/frank-gardn...st-wheelchair/

Upsetting BBC journalists who can answer back can be helpful to other pax!
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Old 26th Mar 2018, 18:27
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The airports, who have a monopoly on PRM handling, should pay compensation to mishandled PRMs. Frankly that would be the only way they will live up to their obligations.

And they would pay nothing if the Pax were treated properly.
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Old 26th Mar 2018, 22:36
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Handling PRM’s is a bloody complicated affair. I wish it was simpler and like the PRM’s, I wish the process were quicker. And in most cases, the solution will not be achieved with extra cash. The problem is the aircraft itself. With a single aisle aircraft and only one or two doors available it is very difficult to board/disembark more than one person at a time. And when the solution is found, who pays? Reduced aircraft utilisation will cost short haul operators dearly and this will have to be funded by someone. And as we are having this discussion, should there be a limit on the number of PRM’s? A group of eight WCHR-C’s set us back one hour and lost us our return slot, delaying our return flight by three hours. Whose fault was that when the compo hounds come out to play? And should all PRM’s be disembarked first? I’m not being disingenuous but if they are, the number of PRM’s will go through the roof due abuse. And I write this knowing my company has, by comparison many others, a pretty good PRM service. But it could certainly be improved.

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Old 27th Mar 2018, 16:49
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PM, the EU has decreed that the airports, not the airlines are responsible for handling PRMs. This was following one LCC deciding they were going to impose fees on PRMs.

Many airports staff for the minimum coverage and when they guess wrong they take no responsibility. Then they turn around and bill the airlines for their services. Who loses? The PRMs. What recourse do they have? Nothing.

They have at least 72 hours notice, often much more. Should they be able to handle 8 WCHRs? Of course they should. They should be able to handle eight of those simultaneously.

Fine the bar-stewards when they screw up. Deduct it from the Executive bonuses but things do have to improve.
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Old 28th Mar 2018, 10:17
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Originally Posted by Piltdown Man View Post
Handling PRM’s is a bloody complicated affair. I wish it was simpler and like the PRM’s, I wish the process were quicker. And in most cases, the solution will not be achieved with extra cash. The problem is the aircraft itself. With a single aisle aircraft and only one or two doors available it is very difficult to board/disembark more than one person at a time. [...]
With respect, this is not the issue. Having experienced the same problem the OP describes last year I suspect Heathrow has a serious problem handling disabled passengers (apologies, I don't know what a PRM is). The issue is having wheelchairs and staff available on the jetbridge. In our experience last year, there were six or seven passengers requiring wheelchairs from the aircraft to the buggy in terminal 5. We were kept on the plane for a good 45 minutes as they didn't turn up, requiring the flight attendants to stay on board with us as well. This was after a long flight from Seattle.

In the end, because the airport looked as though they would never send the wheelchairs, the cabin crew asked if we would wait onboard or walk a fair distance to where we could get on a buggy. We chose the latter as we were under time constraints, but it was unpleasantly painful. We weren't forced, the crew was marvelous, but they and we were getting pissed off and very impatient.

For some reason, I have never experienced this problem in the US, it seems specific to Heathrow. The only difference I'm aware of is that in the US it's the airline that is responsible for providing wheelchairs rather than the airport. And just to make it clear, I asked for disabled assistance when I booked the flights several months beforehand, it wasn't a last minute thing.
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Old 28th Mar 2018, 10:24
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Had a terrible problem with LHR a couple of years back. Wife broke foot in DXB so needed wheelchair. DXB absolutely fantastic, LHR near complete disaster. According to the person who met us at Terminal 3 they could not take us through Passport Control/Customs. Abandoned us before Passport Control, waited close to an hour, after making several complaints, before someone arrived with another wheelchair to take us through Passport Control/Control. Both wheelchair pushers spoke little English and clearly were expecting a tip, which they never got!
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Old 28th Mar 2018, 14:35
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Hokulea. PRM = Passengers with Reduced Mobility. And you are correct in the US the law requires the airlines to provide this. The US DOT also acts on complaints and fines the airlines when they screw up.

In Europe the airports are responsible. In the UK the airports are incapable of meeting their responsibilities and seem to be immune from punishment.
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 08:55
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The point I made about aircraft surfaced yesterday. As usual, my passengers did not have to wait for assistance. But the design of the aircraft means PRM’s (Not all are physically disabled, some have mental problems and many are illiterate so their families book them as requiring a wheelchair so they get to the correct gate) are dealt with first or last. It is not possible to efficiently deal with them in the flow of able bodies persons.

But every now and again we are left waiting. Unfortunately the service providers do not appear to be bound by any binding service level agreement with airlines or the passengers they serve. Maybe it’s time to introduce such a thing so passengers who are left waiting are appropriately compensated?

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Last edited by Piltdown Man; 29th Mar 2018 at 13:09. Reason: (Computer) punctuation
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 11:27
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It’s probably not a coincidence that Heathrow is one of the most profitable airport companies in the world. Those of us that work there can see assets being sweated , and that includes the workers.
I find it interesting that it is owned by a Spanish company that wouldn’t be able to buy an airport in its own country, funnily enough , Spanish airports are a pleasure to go through by comparison.
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 11:52
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My wife uses a wheelchair to get around as she can only manage a short distance on her feet. Years ago, when she realised she had walking limitations but before we bought our own chair, we requested assistance at airports. However after a number of times being told to sit at the landslide help area until it suited the assisters to arrive usually just in time to go through security and board (thus meaning we had to sit on uncomfortable seats usually in a busy area and were precluded from getting airside to have a meal or even a coffee), we decided enough was enough and bought our own chair.

Before we used our own chair On one occasion at Gatwick we were separated by the assisters who would only take her on the buggy to the flight, I had to walk on a different route to the gate. The upshot was that as I was about to board there was no sign of her and two other people. They had been forgotten about in an upstairs corridor!

Since we now have our own chair we can at least make our way airside, but have had many instances where the assistance failed to arrive and the boarding gate staf had to either help or call for urgent assistance. We have been last on board a few times. At the other end, on at least three occasions at Heathrow T5 we have still been on board the arriving aircraft between 30 and 45 minutes. This will have ruined the aircraft turn around.

In general, despite a couple of upsets, European assistance is far better, usually on time and helpful. What will visitors to the UK think of us when they are greeted by inefficient and sometimes surly or lackadaisical assistance staff at our major airports. I shudder to think.

Sorry to go on a bit, but these issues make air travel for those needing help even more stressful than it should be - and I am not even mentioning the myriad problems encountered going through security with a wheelchair. My wife has been reduced to tears on more than one occasion.
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 12:23
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Special assistance...

....on a previous trip to Thailand (Emirates business) Glasgow was great, helper standing behind my wife ready to go.
Dubai was rubbish (they had outsourced to an Indian company) nobody came.
BKK a young racing snake was at the a/c door with madame's name on a card. I could barely keep up. He looked at the immigration queue did a body swerve and took us somewhere else where we were the only customers. Straight through to baggage where he waited with us then out through customs to where the limo was. Star!!
On the return again BKK excellent. Chap standing behind us at check in.
Dubai even worse than before with a shorter connection time this time. I have to confess I intercepted a bloke with a wheelchair and hijacked him. We made it, but only just. Sorry to whoever had to wait a bit longer.

Speaking to the FA once airborne she said that she'd seen (on flights from either Delhi or Islamabad) 100 wheel chairs lined up on the airbridge. Because you get red priority chitties for going through immigration!
On arrival backat GLA once again someone was waiting for her.
Why Emirates took the risk to their reputation by outsourcing this service beats me.
It is clearly a variable feast depending on so many different factors it is difficult to form a considered opinion.

The Ancient Mariner
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 13:32
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What just doesn't make sense to me is that airports are entitled to bill their costs to the airlines. All costs are shared amongst all airlines in proportion to their passengers.

There is no reason to cut costs here. None whatsoever.

That is, unless the airline's money is being diverted for other purposes, or someone's pocket.
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Old 22nd Apr 2018, 11:11
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My experience

Last summer for the first time I needed assistance to get around the airports I could still walk, but only short distances.
We were flying outbound Manchester - Heathrow - Berlin and returning Vienna - Manchester

Manchester : Taken by wheelchair through security left in a designated area in departure lounge and then taken to aircraft for boarding. All good

Heathrow : No wheelchairs on arrival for me or the other 3 passengers needing assistance. We managed to walk part way up the air bridge to a row of seats. After about 30 minutes of waiting I decide to walk the rest of the way into Terminal 5. The glass doors were locked and a member of staff on the other side mouthed to me and my wife " what are you doing there?" . Her pass would not open the door so she had to get a colleague. I explained that I'd been waiting for a wheelchair so she said she'd go and get me one, to which I said " and what about the other 3 who are waiting down the air bridge". I decide to struggle on without a wheelchair. Absolutely shocking!

Berlin : As I left the aircraft there was a wheelchair waiting for me. The young lady had my name and she took me through security, to baggage reclaim and the out to a taxi. Brilliant service

Vienna : couldn't find the assistance desk but I was able to make my own way to the gate. Prior to boarding my name was called and I was taken to the aircraft along with another passenger and boarded the the aircraft before all other passengers. : All good

Manchester arrival. Wheelchairs waiting on arrival for me and the other passenger. Taken through arrivals, baggage reclaim and out to the bus stand for the car park buses.: Excellent.

So of the airports I travelled through the only bad experience was at Heathrow.
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Old 22nd Apr 2018, 17:59
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Thanks for the report abl1011. I hope that you send this to HAL. It is no surprise that their website gives no names but I hope someone in this cabin knows who the 'MD of Wheel Chairs' is:

Heathrow Airport Limited
The Compass Centre, Nelson Road, Hounslow TW6 2GW

Since the name quoted in the BBC article at the start of this thread is: John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, that's a good place to start!
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Old 23rd Apr 2018, 09:26
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Thank you abL1011. Your Heathrow experience is very similar to ours. When we were asked if we could walk a short distance we did it but it was longer than we expected. Sometimes people who are able-bodied do not realise how much of a struggle and a painful experience it can be to walk a few hundred yards. Other busy airports around the world cope with disabled people; there is no excuse for Heathrow.
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Old 23rd Apr 2018, 12:23
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It is no surprise that their website gives no names but I hope someone in this cabin knows who the 'MD of Wheel Chairs' is.....

HAL “own” this but as with almost everything in the U.K. the PRM service has been subbed out, in this case to a company called Omniserve.

Contact details for both HAL and Omniserve can be found through the “contact us” page here:

https://www.heathrow.com/airport-gui...ow-to-get-help
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Old 23rd Apr 2018, 13:12
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EU Regulation 1107/2006

Article 8

Responsibility for assistance at airports

1. The managing body of an airport shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance specified in Annex I without additional charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.
2. The managing body may provide such assistance itself. Alternatively, in keeping with its responsibility, and subject always to compliance with the quality standards referred to in Article 9(1), the managing body may contract with one or more other parties for the supply of the assistance. In cooperation with airport users, through the Airport Users Committee where one exists, the managing body may enter into such a contract or contracts on its own initiative or on request, including from an air carrier, and taking into account the existing services at the airport concerned. In the event that it refuses such a request, the managing body shall provide written justification.
3. The managing body of an airport may, on a non-discriminatory basis, levy a specific charge on airport users for the purpose of funding this assistance.
4. This specific charge shall be reasonable, cost-related, transparent and established by the managing body of the airport in cooperation with airport users, through the Airport Users Committee where one exists or any other appropriate entity. It shall be shared among airport users in proportion to the total number of all passengers that each carries to and from that airport.
5. The managing body of an airport shall separate the accounts of its activities relating to the assistance provided to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility from the accounts of its other activities, in accordance with current commercial practice.
6. The managing body of an airport shall make available to airport users, through the Airport Users Committee where one exists or any other appropriate entity, as well as to the enforcement body or bodies referred to in Article 14, an audited annual overview of charges received and expenses made in respect of the assistance provided to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.
Article 9

Quality standards for assistance

1. With the exception of airports whose annual traffic is less than 150 000 commercial passenger movements, the managing body shall set quality standards for the assistance specified in Annex I and determine resource requirements for meeting them, in cooperation with airport users, through the Airport Users Committee where one exists, and organisations representing disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility.
2. In the setting of such standards, full account shall be taken of internationally recognised policies and codes of conduct concerning facilitation of the transport of disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility, notably the ECAC Code of Good Conduct in Ground Handling for Persons with Reduced Mobility.
3. The managing body of an airport shall publish its quality standards.
4. An air carrier and the managing body of an airport may agree that, for the passengers whom that air carrier transports to and from the airport, the managing body shall provide assistance of a higher standard than the standards referred to in paragraph 1 or provide services additional to those specified in Annex I.
5. For the purpose of funding either of these, the managing body may levy a charge on the air carrier additional to that referred to in Article 8(3), which shall be transparent, cost‐related and established after consultation of the air carrier concerned.
Article 14

Enforcement body and its tasks

1. Each Member State shall designate a body or bodies responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation as regards flights departing from or arriving at airports situated in its territory. Where appropriate, this body or bodies shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility are respected, including compliance with the quality standards referred to in Article 9(1). The Member States shall inform the Commission of the body or bodies designated.
2. Member States shall, where appropriate, provide that the enforcement body or bodies designated under paragraph 1 shall also ensure the satisfactory implementation of Article 8, including as regards the provisions on charges with a view to avoiding unfair competition. They may also designate a specific body to that effect.
Article 15

Complaint procedure

1. A disabled person or person with reduced mobility who considers that this Regulation has been infringed may bring the matter to the attention of the managing body of the airport or to the attention of the air carrier concerned, as the case may be.
2. If the disabled person or person with reduced mobility cannot obtain satisfaction in such way, complaints may be made to any body or bodies designated under Article 14(1), or to any other competent body designated by a Member State, about an alleged infringement of this Regulation.
3. A body in one Member State which receives a complaint concerning a matter that comes under the responsibility of a designated body of another Member State shall forward the complaint to the body of that other Member State.
4. The Member States shall take measures to inform disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility of their rights under this Regulation and of the possibility of complaint to this designated body or bodies.
I believe the UK CAA is the (in)competent body.
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Old 26th Apr 2018, 19:01
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I didn't want to start yet another thread so an tagging on this example of 'Thomas Cook breaks Wheelchairs' song:
Becky Gaunt was offered £500 to replace her wheelchair worth £2,500
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Old 1st May 2018, 10:09
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Whilst in general I am a fan of the EU often the left hand doesn't know what the right one is doing. One Directorate issues regulations lead to the requirement to outsource ground handling which has led to a race to the bottom - it would probably be of higher quality if done in house. Another Directorate lays down requirements which were probably not considered by the first one. My 2 pence worth anyway.
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Old 1st May 2018, 10:39
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Peter47. The regulation was brought in for one reason. A certain Irish LCC implemented a handling charge for PRMs. The Commission and the Parliament fearing a race to the bottom, decided to require that PRMs be provided with assistance without an additional charge. To ensure consistency they decided that the airports would be responsible - and that the airports could not make a profit, but only bill the airlines serving said airport on a per-passenger basis. i.e. If BA has 47*% of the passenger total at Heathrow they would pay 47% of Heathrow's total PRM costs. (*This is a guess, I have no idea what the actual number is).

As this Regulation was being developed the network airlines, at least, wanted to be able to decide if they would provide PRM assistance for their passengers. Their arguments failed.

This has worked almost everywhere in the EU, however some UK airports are well behind the curve.
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