People with a disability or reduced mobility are “significantly less likely” to have flown in the past year than others, research published today (Thursday) reveals.
Many cite access worries as reasons not to travel by air and they fear that things will go wrong.
Just over a third (39%) of people with a disability are classified as ‘recent flyers’, meaning they have taken a flight in the past year.
This compares with 52% of those without a disability, the study commissioned by the Civil Aviation Authority shows.
However, more than three quarters (78%) of those who request in advance special assistance they are entitled to at airports and on airlines, are either ‘very satisfied’ (54%) or ‘satisfied’ (24%) with their air travel experience.
The research also shows that those people with a disability, who are recent flyers, are as likely to fly multiple times a year
One of the reasons for the disparity relates to concerns over access, including both physical and communication barriers, along with expectations that things could go wrong.
Where recent flyers pre-notified airports and airlines and requested assistance, satisfaction levels are high with the services provided.
Other research findings:
• There is generally a high level of confidence in aviation safety and security standards.
• Consumers in general feel well informed and equipped to make air travel choices. But certain groups including passengers with reduced mobility, who have not recently flown and over 65s, are less well informed.
• The main reason for people flying either infrequently or deciding not to fly was ‘budget constraints’.
The regulator’s group director for regulatory policy, Iain Osborne, said: “Where people with reduced mobility request special assistance in advance, they are often very satisfied with the service they get at airports and on board airlines and some, who fly multiple times a year, are clearly confident flyers.
“However, there is a significant number of other disabled passengers, who have low expectations about air travel, and fear things will go wrong and the evidence shows this group are infrequent or non-flyers.
“Sadly it would appear one of the biggest barriers to flying is a lack of understanding and information about the specially tailored special assistance airports and airlines are legally obliged to provide, which enables people with a disability or reduced mobility – to go from departure to arrival with minimal fuss and ease.
“Our role as a consumer champion is to make sure everyone has fair access to air travel and the opportunity to have an enjoyable experience and we will be doing further work with industry to make this happen by promoting special assistance and improving consistency of the service available.”
Fifty airlines and all UK airports were asked last year by the CAA to ensure special assistance information on their websites was more comprehensive, clearer to understand and displayed just one click away from their website’s homepage.
Websites should also include a helpline number so passengers can pre-arrange special assistance and have information on how to complain.
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