Transforming special assistance
Heathrow's aims for assistance services
The aim of the Special Assistance Team at Heathrow is to ensure the airport is accessible to everyone. To that end we have set out three clear objectives for our assistance services to ensure we 'provide the right service for the individual in the moment'
- To increase our focus on the experience our passengers have using the service.
- To look at ways tin which we can enhance the assistance we provide to our passengers when travelling through Heathrow.
- Where we can, improve our infrastructure to make our facilities as efficient and comfortable as possible.
To ensure we are meeting our objectives we discuss initiatives at our dedicated Consultative Forum chaired by Andy Wright - Heathrow's Disability Advocate. Throughout the year we will work closely with our partners to support campaigns such as Dementia Awareness Week between 15 and 21 May or initiatives, such as delivering a full audit of Terminal 5 with Action on Hearing Loss. We value all of our partnerships and the forum has the following members: Action on Hearing Loss, Alzheimer's Society, Autism West Midlands, Guide Dogs, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Multiple Sclerosis Society (MSS), Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and Whizz-Kidz.
To see the level of engagement download the consultation register (Excel format)
Heathrow opens its doors for #AccessDay
In March members of Whizz-Kidz, toured Heathrow to experience the airport's service first-hand. The tour was organised jointly by Virgin Airways and Omniserv. It formed part of Disabled Access Day, and the Whizz-Kids’ #GetOnBoard campaign whose aim is for a more inclusive transport system. In return we were given valuable advice on how the airport can make all passengers’ journeys more comfortable and accessible. Attendees saw the journey through the lens of a departing passenger and it included; check-in, security and even boarding a Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner. This was a chance to see the wide-range of equipment used by the airline which ultimately enriches the airport experience.
STAARS meet the stars
In conjunction with Omniserv, we have introduced Senior Trained Additional Assistance Roles (STAAR). The STAAR team members have been elected from our more experienced Passenger Service Agents, to provide further support to passengers with more complex needs and requirements. The agents training is enriched with input from the Heathrow consultative Committee charity partners. This was inspired by the 'Passport Teams' used during the 2012 Paralympics. In March we welcomed home the Team GB world boccia champion Stephen McGuire and his team-mates. The STAAR team, led by Bob Sandhu (Airside Manager) and Dhiren Khokhadia (Lead Agent) paved the way for a memorable return to Terminal 5 with British Airways.