EasyJet is helping to fund a technology trial to improve accessibility for blind or partially sighted passengers using Gatwick.
The free, on demand service guides passengers through the airport by using the camera on their smartphone.
Agents will be available 24 hours a day during the six-month trail to guide travellers, help them read documents or flight information, shop or find their bag on the luggage carousel.
The Aira system lets trained agents help passengers find specific airport locations such as boarding gates, shops, restaurants or special assistance facilities.
The system can also be used to get the latest information on flights and onward connections or to read menus in restaurants.
Twelve thousand passengers a year – or 500 a month – notify the airport that they are blind or partially sighted.
These passengers can now download and register with the app in advance – although during the trial Gatwick passengers can also sign in as a “guest” – without registering – when entering airport.
Registered users may also use a specialist glasses – Horizon – which send the view to the agent.
Lord David Blunkett, chair of easyJet’s special assistance advisory group said: “This is a great experiment and innovation which I know over time will be life changing in terms of providing equality to passengers with no or little sight.
“This extremely ground-breaking technological breakthrough will allow the partnership between easyJet and Gatwick to demonstrate, for future use across airports here and across the world, just how a simple app and addition to an iPhone or other similar technology can make such a difference.
“I know from my own experience that it will take a bit of technical expertise but also just how liberating this could be, both for those who just need a little extra help as well as for those passengers who want to complement the wider assistance available with an independent solution that they can use themselves.”
Gatwick chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe added: “Airports are complex environments and this new system helps to give blind and visually impaired passengers more independence so they can more easily relax and enjoy their time at Gatwick.
“We have an ambition to be the UK’s most accessible airport and we are looking to do this by investing and innovating and by putting the needs of every passenger at the heart of our operation.
“Ultimately we want to make sure that everybody has an equal opportunity to fly.”
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