Ahead of International Disability Day this Thursday (3 December), we have looked back at improvements in air travel for passengers living with disabilities over recent years.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority believes that everyone should have access to air travel, and our ongoing #AccessToAir campaign is looking to build confidence and awareness among consumers.

We want passengers from the UK to have the best possible aviation experience, and as part of that, in 2015, we introduced an accessibility framework which assesses and rates each of the UK's airports for the services they provide to consumers with reduced mobility and hidden disabilities. The framework is a world-first among aviation regulators and has overseen significant improvements for passengers living with a disability.

The latest findings from the Civil Aviation Authority's accessibility framework are due to be published later this week. The framework is set to be mirrored for airlines as well as airports in the coming years and we look forward to the improvements that this will encourage.  

While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has proved to be an extremely difficult and challenging period for the global aviation industry, we know that airports and airlines across the UK are looking forward to welcoming all passengers back as flights return.

We spoke to Chris Wood of Flying Disabled, who is campaigning for an improved consumer experience, to gauge his thoughts on accessibility in the UK. Chris said:

“The past ten years has seen strong improvements in air travel for anyone flying with a disability. Airport accessibility rating by the UK Civil Aviation Authority has helped keep the agenda for improvement constantly evolving. All major airports now strive for a very good rating, many endeavour to go further.

“However, there is still much more work needed to be done as the number of air travellers with a disability increase year on year. The airlines must also play their part, and I would like to see better infrastructure inside aircraft."

Reflecting on the recent years of improvements, James Fremantle of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“After some much welcomed news for the UK around vaccinations against Covid-19, as well as the announcement of plans for a test and release programme for travellers cutting quarantine periods, many consumers across the UK will be once again looking to book flights and trips for 2021.

“We want everyone to be confident that they will have a comfortable and enjoyable experience when flying with UK airlines and through UK airports. We will continue to work with the industry and disability groups to encourage further improvements towards greater access to air.”


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