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Airport Assistance in the United Kingdom

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Arty scene of people at the airport including one in a wheel chair

Airports can be a stressful environment for many disabled travelers, but with assistance the stress can be reduced significantly and make the start and end of your journey easier.  So in this article I am going to look at how and why disabled travelers should consider the advantages of using assistance at airports.  

In the United Kingdom if you have any disability then it is your legal right to request assistance through the airport. It is not just for travelers with reduced mobility. You can request assistance also if you have a sensory impairment or neurodiversity disability or invisible disability.  

It is a good idea to request your assistance at least 48 hours prior to your flight.  You can do this either through your travel agent or through the airline you are flying with.  It is always worth checking with the airline 24 hours before to ensure the request has been sent.  

If you do just turn up to the check in for assistance and request assistance, you may have a wait as they will have scheduled the people who have requested ahead of time with the airlines and they will give those priority over travelers who just turn up. If you do find you have to turn up and request assistance then they will offer you assistance but you may have to wait longer for assistance.

If there is one thing that is essential when traveling with a disability, whether you have assistance or not, it is important to give yourself plenty of time to check in, get to your departure gate and boarding. Most airports have more than one terminal and some airports such as Heathrow have different assistance providers for each terminal.  So it is a good idea if you are transiting from one terminal to the other to ask the aIrvine to ensure that both terminals are aware of your assistance needs and request.

Airports can be a confusing and stressful environment for anyone, but for anyone with a neuro diversity or cognitive condition such as autism or dementia it can be both very stressful and confusing.  Many of the airports offer a range of support from the sunflower lanyard, to enable airport staff to discretely identify those passengers who have a less visible disability or medical condition and offer support.  

Some airports offer a service where travelers can visit before the journey to get to know the airport, others work alongside autism and dementia charities who provide volunteers to help support travelers.  Some of the airports in the United Kingdom offer a video tour.  Some airports have set aside a quiet room, where you can get away from the noise and hustle bustle of a busy terminal. So it is worth getting in touch with the airport ahead of time to see what assistance and facilities are available at the airport you are traveling from. 

Whatever your disability, assistance at the airport is there to assist and help you.  It is free.  It can reduce the hassle and get your holiday off to a less stressful start. 

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