London City Airport has teamed up with the National Autistic Society to host a series of Open Days to help make the airport a more accommodating and less daunting place for passengers on the autism spectrum.
The first Open Day took place on Thursday 27 April as part of the Business in the Community (BITC) Responsible Business Week.
Representatives from the National Autistic Society, together with volunteers and parents of children on the autistm spectrum, joined airport staff to gain a better understanding of the airport journey and processes – from check-in and security, to departures and boarding. Further Open Days with the National Autistic Society are planned for August and October.
Melanie Burnley, Director of Passenger Experience at London City Airport, said: “We realise that airport journeys can be stressful for many people, especially if a passenger is unsure of what to expect on the day or is not familiar with the layout or procedures.
“Ensuring that London City Airport is a welcoming environment for all is extremely important to us. The new visual guide, and close working with organisations such as the National Autistic Society and Business Disability Forum, means that those who need a helping hand can get the info and assistance they require.”
Daniel Cadey, Autism Access Development Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: “Visiting a busy and unpredictable airport can be stressful at the best of times. But for an autistic person, the noise, crowds and break from their usual routine can be overwhelming.
“We’re really pleased that London City Airport are developing resources to help autistic passengers prepare for their visit and flight. And it’s really important that, along with other UK airports, London City is consulting with autistic people and their families to help improve the service they offer to them and other customers with hidden disabilities.”
Airport staff also introduced the group to its new ‘Travelling through London City Airport’ visual guide, published today and created in consultation with the Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit member organisation which helps companies become more disabled friendly. The printed guide is in an accessible format which familiarises passengers with London City Airport and sets out a step-by-step guide to an airport journey – as an arriving or departing passenger.
Kim Whippy - Disability Consultant from Business Disability Forum, said: “We were delighted to support London City Airport in creating this visual guide. Disability-smart organisations understand the importance of providing an accessible, inclusive service to their customers. This guide will be a very useful tool for passengers to familiarise themselves with the airport, and it demonstrates London City Airport’s commitment to removing barriers and creating the best possible travel experience.”
Feedback from the Open Day group will be combined with responses from new survey cards and questionnaires, distributed within the airport, to help define future policies and inform any changes to the airport’s physical environment.
The Open Days form part of a wider programme that London City Airport is undertaking to better cater for the needs of all passengers, including those with reduced mobility and non-visible disabilities.
In recent months the Business Disability Forum has led training sessions for airport staff, including customer services and security, on how to better recognise and help passengers who may need additional assistance, when it may not be immediately apparent. Disabled Go, the leading UK provider of access information for disabled people in the UK, has also helped the airport develop new accessibility maps.