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Heathrow Airport Open Day


On Sunday 13 March, Accessible Travel’s Managing Director, Andy Wright, was asked to assist Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic, in organising and hosting an Open Day at the airport. The event involved a number of young ambassadors from Whizz-Kidz, as well as a cross-section of representatives from other local charities and disability organisations.

The Open Day provided an opportunity for the invitees to visit the airport and gain a better understanding of the ways in which Heathrow Airport are able to support passengers who require additional assistance when they travel by air. The guests were given a guided tour of the airport, starting at the Special Assistance area in Terminal 3, and included the check-in procedure for wheelchair users, along with a chance to experience the security and immigration process - especially useful for those members of the group who had not flown since their injury or diagnosis.

Virgin Atlantic were able to organise access on board an aircraft, enabling the invitees to acquaint themselves with how they would be assisted, either into their aircraft seat or during the flight by the cabin crew. Clearly the whole event provided reassurance and empowered the guests, who prior to this event, may not have had the self-confidence to contemplate flying, or travelling overseas.

Following the tour, the guests were then able to talk directly with representatives including Heathrow’s immigration and security officers, Virgin Atlantic cabin crew, as well as members of Heathrow’s Special Assistance team, Omniserv, who were able to discuss the various methods and techniques that are adopted when assisting passengers with specific guiding or moving and handling requirements.

The day was well received by the guests and many have since written expressing their thanks and gratitude. Some examples are listed below:

Whizz-Kidz Chief Executive – “'We were delighted to mark Disabled Access Day with an event at Heathrow Airport on Sunday 13th March. Disabled Access Day is certainly one of those positive examples and we would like to thank Omniserv and two of our other Accessible Travel partners, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow for an excellent event on Sunday and their continued commitment to young wheelchair users.’

Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership representative – “It was a pleasure to meet you also Irene and myself had a very good experience and found it very informative. Met some very nice people working there, this has given us great confidence to recommend to clients your services when using the airport.”

Leonard Cheshire representative – “Thank you for arranging such an interesting and informative afternoon. The staff were amazing, nothing was too much trouble and they were extremely patient answering questions and showing us around.”


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