Saturday, April 9, 2011

In Britain, investigation shows blind woman separated from her guide dog at Gatwick airport

From This is Sussex in the UK:

A blind investigator was separated from her guide dog when going through security at Gatwick Airport, a report has revealed.

The undercover traveller was flying with her guide dog from the airport's north terminal to Manchester Airport.

She was travelling as part of a Which? Travel investigation.

The publication sent two guide dog owners and two wheelchair users on domestic flights around the UK to assess the level of assistance for disabled people at seven different airports.

All four passengers had requested airport assistance at the time of booking and informed their respective airlines of their specific needs.

The undercover traveller separated from her dog was reunited with the animal minutes later, but was left "deeply unhappy" at her treatment on January 25.

Rochelle Turner, of Which? Travel, said: "Although most disabled passengers are happy with the level of support they get at airports, when things go wrong, they go badly wrong, leaving passengers feeling distressed or humiliated.

"A few simple changes to processes and staff training could help airports ensure all passengers get the assistance they need."

A Gatwick spokeswoman said changes were made last November that should have improved disabled, blind and deaf travellers' experience of the airport.

She explained: "Working in partnership with the RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People), passenger groups, our airlines and their handling agents, we reviewed our procedures and introduced new and improved service standards.

"We have invested in new equipment and our service standards now go above and beyond what is required by the EU."