After my recent report regarding very unacceptable treatment whilst flying British Airways Premium Economy to Las Vegas in May I’m very pleased to announce that they have at least changed their ticketing practice and are now able to add both deaf and blind instead of just one disability, this should now make very clear to all staff the unique accessibility needs of any deafblind traveller travelling and to ensure the appropriate support /assistance is in place.
I was very pleased to see this on my ticket for my flight last month to Glasgow.
This is absolutely a step in the right direction however there is still work to do.
I have suggested to British Airways have all safety instructions and menu’s available on the iPads each staff member appears to have which would then solve the issue of accessibility for the majority with blindness, visual impairment or low vision, how simple is that? In my opinion there should always be braille copies of safety instructions onboard for those who need it, according to the people I spoke with on both recent flights this has not been the case for years. Virgin have braille on every flight!
All with blindness should always be offered a one to one to touch and feel safety equipment, without exception, this I am told is normal practice, however, it was not offered to me on either of my recent flights!
It is my belief that more can be done to make life much easier for those with disabilities travelling rather than the many hoops we have to jump through currently.
Technology is always the answer and it should be used to make life easier for both traveller and staff.
Going back to the staff iPad, these are already in use why not enable disabled travellers to set up a profile detailing their needs and upon booking a flight the profile can be added this would be particularly helpful to the deafblind and deaf unable to use a telephone but with specific accessibility needs.
The call to special assistance is usually a long hold then a staff member unsure of what is required, ending the call feeling anxious that needs are not catered for and from my experiences they simply do not get it right.
A personal profile could be set up simply and safely stored by the customer of by the airline with the permission of the customer and applied at time of booking the information then readily available and viewable to all staff and then the unacceptable excuses I was given about breakdown in communication from ground staff to air staff would be eradicated and all disabled people would know their needs would be met.
I very much appreciate British Airways have listened to me and I have seen evidence of this however I am concerned to hear several deaf customers have also had bad experiences recently so there really is work to do.
Hidden disabilities are often the most misunderstood hence the need for all round training.
I personally object to being offered a wheelchair in order to have assistance at the airport, why would I need that? I’d like to be escorted on foot through the quietest checkin and security, I can walk, it is just very difficult in busy unfamiliar areas with a cane or guidedog.
So British Airways thank you for changing your ticketing procedure as a direct response to my complaint and for the offer of compensation airmails or eticket but more importantly please consider my other ideas which will make a difference to millions.
My offer to present deafblind, deaf, blind awareness to your staff remains and I can be contacted via my website.
My next two flights are booked and not with British Airways however I will consider flying with you again to see if improvements continue to be made.